The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said that human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, lacks legal rights to challenge the imposition of N 5m fine on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM Lagos and the threat by the National Broadcasting Commission to punish other broadcast stations in the country over alleged hate speech.
Lai who also denied announcing an increment in the fine for hate speech from N 500,000 to N 5 m, maintained that he never made any increment on the fine, adding that there is a governmental body or institution mandated to regulate and enforce the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.
It could be recalled that on August 5, 2020, Lai announced the decision of the National Broadcasting Commission to increase the hate speech fine from N 500,000 to N5,000,000.00
Effiong had filed a motion before a Federal High Court in Lagos, against the hate speech fine by the NBC, stating that it is a gross violation of people’s freedom of speech.
However, in an affidavit deposed to by a litigation clerk, Kabir Fabode, from Adeola Adewara and Co, the commission stated that the applicant was not a broadcaster and therefore lacked the right to challenge its actions.
The affidavit read, “Paragraph 19 is denied. The 2nd defendant ( Mohammed ) did not announce an increment in any fine for hate speech from N 500,000 to N 5, 000,000.00 or any other because there is a governmental body or institution mandated to regulate and enforce the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.”
Lai also argued that Effiong was not directly affected by the NBC sanctions and therefore lacked the legal right to challenge NBC’s Code.
He wrote, “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for derogation from fundamental rights in the interest of public safety, public order and for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.”
“The 1st respondent ( NBC ) has powers in determining and applying sanctions including revocation of licences of defaulting stations which do not operate in accordance with the broadcast code and in the public interest.
“A public affairs commentator, anchor of programmes and the media are not to use their platform to incite public violence or disorder or in a manner detrimental to the national interest.
“It is within the purview of the Federal Government of Nigeria to maintain public safety, public order in the interest of all citizens of Nigeria to avoid breakdown of law and order.”
Nwada Ugochinyere Onyechere reporting, Obinwannem News