Court bars NBC from imposing fines on broadcast stations in Nigeria
A Federal High Court Abuja, on Wednesday, gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from imposing fines, henceforth, on broadcast stations in the country,described the NBC’s Act as being ultra vires.
The NBC had on March 1, 2019, imposed the sum of N500, 000 each on 45 broadcast stations in the country over alleged violation of its code.
However, the Incorporated Trustees of Media Rights Agenda had, in an originating motions marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1386/2021, sued the NBC as sole respondent in the suit.
In the motion dated Nov. 9, 2021 by its lawyer, Noah Ajare, the group sought a declaration that the sanctions procedure applied by the NBC in imposing N500,00Q fines on each of the 45 broadcast stations on March 1, 2019 was a violation of the rules of natural justice.
The lawyer also said that the fines were in violation of the right to fair hearing under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Articles 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap AQ) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The group argued that this was so because the code, which created the alleged offences of which the broadcast stations were accused was written and adopted by the NBC, “and also gives powers to the said commission to receive complaints of alleged breaches, investigate and adjudicate the complaints, impose sanctions, including fines, and ultimately collect the fines, which the commission uses for its own purposes.”
They, therefore, sought an order setting aside the N500,000 fines purportedly imposed by the NBC on each of the 45 broadcast stations on Friday, March 1, 2019.
They also sought “an order of perpetual Injunction restraining the respondent, its servants, agents, privies, representatives or anyone acting for or on its behalf, from imposing fines on any of the broadcast stations or any other broadcast station in Nigeria for any alleged offence committed under the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.”
Delivering judgment, Justice James Omotosho described the NBC’s act as being ultra vires.
He held that the fines imposed by the NBC as punishment for commission of various offences under its code were contrary to the law and hereby declared as unconstitutional, null and void.
The judge also made an order of perpetual injunction restraining the commission from further imposing fines on broadcast stations in the country.
Justice Omotosho held that the NBC, not being a court of law, had no power to impose sanctions as punishment on broadcast stations.
He further held that the NBC Code, which gives the commission the power to impose sanction, is in conflict with Section 6 of the Constitution that vested judicial power in the court of law.
He said the court would not sit idle and watch a body imposing fine arbitrarily without recourse to the law.
According to him, the commission did not comply with the law when it sat as a complainant and at the same time, the court and the judge on its own matter.
The judge agreed that the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, being a subsidiary legislation that empowers an administrative body such as the NBC to enforce its provisions cannot confer judicial powers on the commission to impose criminal sanctions or penalties such as fines.
He also agreed that the commission, not being the Nigerian police, had no power to conduct criminal investigation that would lead to criminal trial and imposition of sanctions.
“This will go against the doctrine of separation of powers,” he said, adding that what the doctrine sought to achieve was to prevent tyranny by concentrating too much powers in one organ.
“The action of the respondent qualifies as excessiveness” as it had ascribed to itself the judicial and executive powers.
G5 members lobby Tinubu for Post
President Bola Tinubu on Thursday met with a group of aggrieved politicians within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) known as the G5 or the Integrity Group who are lobbying for post in his government.
The group whose actions one way or the other helped to secure Tinubu election victory during the February 25, 3023 general election are desperate to secure appointments for those who lost out at the election.
In attendance at the meeting at the Aso Rock are one serving governor and four former governors within the party. They are Governor Seyi Makinde (Oyo) as well as former Govenors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
The current governor of Enugu State, Peter Mbah was also present.
G5 Long Battle With Atiku, Ayu
The G5, who were all two-term governors before four of them handed over on May 29, 2023, formed an alliance after the party’s presidential primary in May 2022 to demand that the then PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu step down for a southern replacement as a precondition to support the presidential ambition of the party’s flag bearer, Atiku Abubakar in the February 25 poll. Both Atiku and Ayu called the then governors’ bluff and did not succumb to their demands in the just-concluded elections.
Interestingly, Ortom, Ikpeazu, and Ugwuanyi attempted to cross over to the Senate which has been described as a ‘retirement home’ for former governors but the trio lost their senatorial bid in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections. Only Makinde won an election among G5 members.
For a number of times, Tinubu met with Wike and Makinde before the elections.
For the presidential election, Atiku lost in all the G5 states while Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi won Enugu and Abia, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) raked in Oyo, Benue and Rivers.
Tinubu, 70, came out tops in 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states, and secured significant numbers in several other states to claim the highest number of votes — 8,794,726, almost two million votes more than his closest rival, Atiku.
Atiku, 76, who has now run for president six times, got 6,984,520 votes, while Obi, who, in less than a year, galvanised young voters in a manner some have described as unprecedented finished the race with 6,101,533.
Katsina Deputy Accountant General, Sani arraigned for N289m fraud
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned the duo of Saadu Maiwada and Sani Lawal BK before Justice Musa Danladi of the Katsina State High Court on a five count charge of conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
The defendants, in their capacity as then Sub Treasurer and Deputy Sub Treasurer in the office of Accountant General of Katsina State, allegedly conspired and converted the sum of N289,000,000 (Two Hundred and Eighty Nine Million Naira) from the coffers of Katsina State.
Investigation revealed that the defendants laundered the stolen funds through the account of Integrated Gas Services Limited, a company where the first defendant (Maiwada) is a Director.
The sum of N49, 000,000 was also allegedly transferred from the account of Integrated Gas Services Limited to the personal account of the second defendant (Lawal BK) who is now the Deputy Accountant General of the state.
One of the charges reads, “That you, Saadu Miawada and Sani Lawal BK sometime in 2017 at Katsina within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court while being entrusted with dominion over money belonging to Katsina State Government dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N120,790,942.86
The sum was transferred from Katsina State Government Sub -Treasury Expenditure Account number 1012424374 domiciled in United Bank for Africa (UBA) PLC to Integrated Gas Services Company Limited’s Fidelity Bank account no 4010693761 (CO1717299)
That by the act he “committed an offence punishable under Section 297 of the Penal Code Law of Katsina State 2021”.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
In view of their pleas, counsel for the prosecution, Aisha Tahar Habib prayed the court for a trial date.
Counsel for the defendants, J B Israel made an oral bail application on behalf of his clients but the prosecution objected, demanding for a formal application as the court is a court of record.
Justice Danladi, however, admitted the defendants to bail in the sum of N5, 000,000 (Five Million Naira) each. The court ordered that each defendant must provide a surety with a landed property within Katsina and present letters of introduction from a traditional ruler.
The matter has being adjourned to July 24, 2023 for trial.
Bandits release three abducted Women in Niger State
Three women who were abducted by bandits in Kafin Koro and other adjourning communities in Paikoro Local Government Area of Niger State have regained freedom. Recall that bandits stormed the communities in large numbers last month and abducted over 50 persons. It was gathered that some of the victims earlier regained freedom after paying various sums as ransom, while the remaining ones are still in captivity. A member of the community, Umar Farouq Akike, confirmed the release of the three women in a Facebook post on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.
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