THE Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on Friday stated that it will appeal against the judgement of an Abuja Federal High Court which barred it from imposing fines on broadcast stations in Nigeria.
In a statement entitled: “A Federal High Court in Abuja Ruling on NBC,” dated May 12, 2023, and signed by its Director-General, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, the NBC said it has neither seen nor read the said judgement but that it has however applied for a certified true copy of the judgement.
The statement reads: “The attention of the National Broadcasting Commission has been drawn to a ruling by the Federal High Court, Abuja nullifying the powers of the Commission to impose fines on broadcast stations that violate the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
“In view of the foregoing, the Commission has applied for a Certified Copy of the judgment.
“It is global best practice and the ethics of the Legal profession, that no party to a suit can freely comment on a judgment it has not seen and read.
“The Commission will appeal against the judgment when found to be in conflict with previous judgments of the Court, which empowers the Commission ro regulate broadcasting in Nigeria.”
It would be recalled that a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining the NBC from imposing fines, henceforth, on broadcast stations in the country.
Justice James Omotosho, in the judgement, also set aside the N500,000 fines imposed on 45 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, arguing further that 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 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,” Justice Omotosho held, stressing 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.