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FG Lands Into Another Big Trouble As Lawyers Files Lawsuit Against NBC Over ‘Punitive Fines’ Against Arise TV, Channels, AIT

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Some Nigerian lawyers under the aegis of Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative (DRLI), have filed a suit against the National Broadcasting Commission over the alleged punitive fines imposed on AIT, CHANNELS and ARISE TV.

Recall DGN reported that the NBC sanctioned the television stations for allegedly violating the broadcast code, top of which is the use of unverifiable online video footages on social media. They were accused of airing unverified images of the alleged shooting which took place at Lekki toll gate. 

In the lawsuit filed against the NBC, the lawyers are seeking “declaration of the fines as a stiffling effect against freedom of expression, an interefence with the television stations right to receive ideas and information without interference, a perpetual injunction against the NBC from imposing sanctions or fines or excessive, disproportionate, unlawful and indeed unconstitutional restrictions on television stations among other pleas.”

The lawsuit which was filed by the organization’s lawyers, Solomon Okedara and Olumide
Babalola is seeking the following reliefs before the federal high court in Abuja; 

i. A DECLARATION that the Respondent’s arbitrary act of sanctioning and imposing fine of Three Million Naira (N3,000,000) on each of ARISE TV, CHANNELS TV and AIT purportedly in line with Sections 5.6.3 and 5.6.9 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code creates a chilling or stifling effect on freedom of expression and is likely to interfere with the right of
the Applicant’s members to freedom of expression, particularly, their right to receive ideas and information without interference as guaranteed by section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the
Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

ii. A DECLARATION that the fine of Three Million Naira (N3,000,000) imposed on each of ARISE TV, CHANNELS TV and AIT indeed constitutes an interference to the Applicant’s members’ right to freedom of expression, particularly, their right to receive ideas and information without interference guaranteed by section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

iii. A DECLARATION that the respondent not being a judicial body lacks the power to impose fines on any broadcaster, including fines imposed on ARISE TV, CHANNELS TV and AIT and the imposition of such fines is null and void.

iv. A CONSEQUENTIAL ORDER of setting aside the fine of Three Million Naira (N3,000,000) imposed on each of ARISE TV, CHANNELS TV and AIT as same was unlawfully imposed.

v. A PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the Respondent, its officers, agents and/or representatives from imposing sanctions or fines or excessive, disproportionate, unlawful and indeed unconstitutional restrictions on television stations including ARISE TV, CHANNELS TV, AIT and other television or radio stations which will interfere with the Applicant’s members’ right to freedom of expression, particularly, their right to receive ideas and information without interference.

vi. AN ORDER of award of sum of One Million Naira only (N1,000,000) to the Applicant as the cost of this action.

vii. AND SUCH OTHER ORDER (S) as this honourable Court may deem fit to grant in the circumstance.

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