Court stops Nigerian govt from sealing broadcast stations


 

The Federal High Court in Lagos has stopped the Federal Government from revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations, and shutting them over license renewal.

On Monday, Justice Akintayo Aluko granted an order of interim injunction after hearing an argument on motion exparte by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE).

SERAP and NGE filed a lawsuit last week against President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

The suit sought a declaration that section 10(a) of the Third Schedule to the NBC Act used by NBC to threaten the stations is unconstitutional and unlawful, as it violates freedom of expression.”

In suit FHC/L/CS/1582/2022, SERAP and NGE are seeking a declaration that the section violates the constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing.

The litigants maintain that the media plays an essential role as a vehicle or instrument for the exercise of freedom of expression and information in any country.

They stressed that the media has the task of distributing all varieties of information and opinion on matters of general interest.

“The public has a right to receive and assess this information and opinion independently”, the suit reads.

“The existence of a free, independent, vigorous, pluralistic, and diverse media is essential for the proper functioning of a democratic society.”

SERAP cited provisions of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

It says licensing processes shall promote diversity in broadcasting and that the registration process shall not impose restrictions on the right to freedom of expression.’”

The suit is adjourned to 8th September, 2022 for the hearing of the Motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction.

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