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Court Restraints NBC From Imposing Fines On Broadcast Stations

Justice James Omotosho of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from imposing fines on broadcast stations in the country.

Justice Omotosho in his ruling set aside the N500,000 fines imposed on each of the 45 broadcast stations on March 1, 2019.

While delivering the judgment, he described NBC’s act as being ultra vires.

He also held that NBC, not being a court of law, had no power to impose sanctions as punishment on broadcast stations.

While delivering judgement, He stated that the NBC Code, which gives the commission the power to impose sanctions, is in conflict with Section 6 of the Constitution which 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.

Justice Omotosho also said 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 a criminal investigation that would lead to criminal trial and imposition of sanctions.

Omotosho held that what the doctrine sought to achieve was to prevent tyranny by concentrating too much power in one organ.

NBC had, on March 1, 2019, imposed the sum of N500,000 each on 45 broadcast stations in the country over an alleged violation of its code.

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