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High Court Nullifies Provisions Of Broadcasting Code Empowering NBC To Impose Fines On Broadcasters

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A Federal High Court in Abuja today declared null and void the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code authorizing the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to impose fines on broadcast stations for alleged breaches of the Code as it ruled that administrative and regulatory bodies could not exercise judicial powers.



Delivering judgment in a suit instituted by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) against the NBC following the Commission’s imposition of fines of N5 million each on a television station and three pay TV platforms in 2022 for allegedly undermining Nigeria’s national security by broadcasting documentaries on banditry in Nigeria, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia held that the NBC not being a court of law, acted above its powers by imposing such fines.



The judge commended MRA for its legal challenge of the NBC’s action and issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Commission or anyone acting on its behalf from further imposing any fine on any media platform or broadcast station in Nigeria for any alleged offence committed under the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.



Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia set aside the fines imposed by the NBC on August 3, 2022 on Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DSTV; TelCom Satellite Limited (TSTV); Trust-TV Network Limited; and NTA Startimes Limited for broadcasting a documentary about the state of banditry and security in Zamfara State, saying the regulator’s action was wrong and unjustifiable in a democratic society.



Abuja-based human rights lawyer, Mr. Uche Amulu, filed the suit on behalf of MRA asking the court to hold, among other things, the NBC’s action of imposing a fine on each of the media platforms and the station for broadcasting a documentary about the state of banditry and security in Zamfara State is unlawful and unconstitutional and has a chilling effect on the freedom of media to impart information and ideas. MRA contended that it would deter the platforms and station from reporting the true state of affairs regarding the security situation in Nigeria, and therefore constitutes a violation of the rights of MRA, its members, and other citizens of Nigeria to freedom of expression, particularly their rights to receive ideas and information without interference, as guaranteed by the Constitution and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.



MRA also sought a declaration that the procedure adopted by the NBC in imposing the fines is a flagrant violation of the rules of natural justice and the right to fair hearing under Section 36 of the Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter as the Commission is the drafter of the Code, which provides for the alleged offences for which the media platforms and the station were punished, and which empowers the NBC to receive complaints, investigate and adjudicate on the complaints, impose fines and collect fines.



MRA contended that the NBC, not being a court of law and not having been constituted in a manner as to secure its independence and impartiality, has no power or competence to impose fines on broadcast stations as punishment or penalties for the commission of an offence as the competence to establish that an offence has been committed and to impose criminal sanctions or penalties belongs to the courts.



Besides, it claimed, the NBC, not being the Nigerian Police or a law enforcement agency, has no power to conduct a criminal investigation or an investigation that could lead to criminal charges against the affected media platforms and stations or the imposition of criminal penalties and accordingly, that the investigation purportedly conducted by the Commission, leading to the fines imposed on the media platforms and station for alleged offences under the Nigeria Broadcasting Code is ultra vires, null and void.



MRA also urged the Court to declare that the Nigeria Broadcasting Code issued by the NBC, being a subsidiary legislation that empowers it as a regulatory and administrative body to enforce the provisions of the Code, cannot confer judicial powers or jurisdiction in criminal matters on the Commission to impose criminal sanctions or penalties such as fines, particularly as the Code was made by the NBC itself.



It urged the Court to declare the fines unconstitutional, ultra vires, null and void, set them aside and issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the NBC, its servants, agents, privies, representatives or anyone acting for or on its behalf, from further imposing any fine on any of the media platforms or station, or any other broadcast station in Nigeria for any alleged offence committed under the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.



In her judgment, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia agreed with all MRA’s arguments and granted all the declarations and injunction sought by the organization. She however refused to grant the organization’s claim for N700,000 as costs it incurred in litigating the action; another claim for N2 million as general damages for NBC’s infringement on its rights as well as a request for N1 million as punitive damages for the Commission’s “outrageous conduct in abusing its powers and arbitrarily imposing fines on broadcasting stations”.

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‘Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish’, Nigerians React As High Court Sentence Bobrisky To Six-Month Imprisonment

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Nigerians have taken to microblogging platform, X (formerly known as Twitter) to express their thought on the court judgment, which saw cross-dresser, Idris Okuneye, popularly known as Bobrisky, sentenced to six months imprisonment.


Recall that Bobrisky, on Friday, was sentenced to six months in jail with no option of a fine.

The judgement was passed by Justice Abimbola Awogboro of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Recall that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, April 4, filed six-count of money laundering and abuse of naira against him.

On Friday, April 5, the EFCC arraigned Bobrisky in court on six charges, including Abuse of the Naira and Money laundering.

The court, however, dismissed the money laundering charges but convicted him of Naira Abuse after he confessed to the crime.

Some Nigerians, reacting to the court judgement, saw the ruling as an injustice against the cross-dresser.

Others wondered which section Bobrisky will be in jail because of the controversy around the gender he aligns with.

See some reactions below:

@brodamike07 wrote, “If this is true, the judgment is harsh and should be condemned by all.”

@Grachidex wrote, “So is it gonna be the male or female prison?”

@iamkelechiO wrote, “I honestly don’t feel sorry for him. He’s a bad influence in the society.

“Good riddance to bad rubbish.”

@_konfam wrote, “This is not right at all, they’re sentencing him over what everyone is guilty of?”

@IamKonrade wrote, “I hope this sets precedence and that anyone who violates the naira, politicians inclusive, is sentenced.”

@JoyMart14 wrote, “May we not offend people wey no deh accept apology ”

@Iamlexprince wrote, “Ok, now this is pure wickedness and jealousy. Bobrisky is the least of our problem in this country. If they channel that same energy to the right people, we for no dey complain for this country.”

@divfee wrote, “This country funny, is she the first to spray money like this in naija??

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Bobrisky Wiill Have Difficult Experience In Prison – Effiong

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A Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, says controversial cross-dresser and social media celebrity, Idris Okuneye, popularly known as Bobrisky, will have a difficult experience in prison.

According to Effiong, Bobrisky is not a freedom fighter and does not seem like someone who could stay in a restricted environment under harsh and excruciating conditions.

Effiong’s opinion came after a Court in Lagos sentenced Bobrisky to six months imprisonment for abusing the Nigerian currency, Naira.

Justice Abimbola Awogboro handed down the six-month sentence without the option of a fine.

Recall that the controversial celebrity has been in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, since his arrest last week.

However, following his sentencing by the court, the human rights lawyer fears that Bobrisky will be confronted by a culture shock when he enters Ikoyi Prison.

In a post on his X handle, Effiong suggested that he would begin to adjust to his new world after a few days.

He said: “Bobrisky will have a difficult experience in the Custodial Centre (prison) because he is not a freedom fighter and does not seem to me like someone that can stay in a restricted environment under harsh and excruciating conditions.

“The main key to surviving imprisonment is mental strength and courage.

The prison wall only breaks those who are not driven by strong convictions.

“For a freedom fighter, it is a training ground. No true activist goes to prison and comes out weaker. They always come out stronger and bolder. History shows this clearly. Any activist who is broken by imprisonment is a pretender.

If you are all about the ‘soft life’, and you are the fragile type and incapable of enduring physical discomfiture, you should avoid imprisonment.

Some of us came out stronger after our imprisonment because we have always been mentally prepared for it and due to our strong ideological disposition.

“Bobrisky will be confronted by a culture shock when he enters Ikoyi Prison and realizes that it is a different world from what he knows.

“After a few days, he will begin to adjust to his new world.

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Owolabi Olakulehin Nominated As 43rd Olubadan Of Ibadanland

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The traditional kingmakers of Ibadanland, on Friday, unanimously consent to the enthronement of Oba Owolabi Olakulehin as the 43rd Olubadan of Ibadanland.

His nomination followed the Ibadan Chieftaincy Declaration specifying that the most senior high chief from either of the civilian or military sides should mount the throne as Olubadan interchangeably.

The late Oba Mahood Lekan Balogun, the immediate past and 42nd Olubadan occupied the respected throne from the civilian lineage.

Oba Olakulehin was the most senior high chief in the Balogun (military) line of Olubadan chieftaincy ascension.

The kingmakers who are also the members of the Olubadan-in-Council ratified Olakulehin’s appointment at a meeting held at Mapo Hall on Friday.

He was nominated by the Osi Balogun of Ibadanland, Oba Gbadamosi Adebimpe at a meeting summoned by the Otun Olubadan, Senator Rasheed Ladoja.

The nomination put an end to the controversial ascension disagreements surrounding the fitness of the Olubadan-nominee for the throne.

The Otun Balogun of Ibadanland, Tajudeen Ajibola, was absent at the meeting.

The meeting which commenced around 11:00 am, ended some minutes after 12:00 pm.

The meeting, which was attended by Olakulehin, was chaired by the Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, a former governor of Oyo State, High Chief Ladoja.

Other members of Olubadan-in-Council at the meeting were Osi Olubadan, Eddy Oyewole Foko; Ashipa Olubadan, Abiodun Kola-Daisi; Ekerin Olubadan, Hamidu Ajibade; Ekarun Olubadan, Adebayo Akande; Osi Balogun, Lateef Adebimpe; Ashipa Balogun, Kola Adegbola; Ekerin Balogun, Dada Isioye and Ekarun Balogun, Abiodun Azeez.

The High Chiefs are expected to immediately forward the name of Oba Olakulehin to the Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde for endorsement.

 

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