Court Restrains NBC From Imposing Fines On Broadcast Stations In Nigeria
The Federal High Court Abuja has given an order of perpetual injunction restraining the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from imposing fines on broadcast stations in the country.
The order was given on Wednesday by a Judge, James Omotosho.
The judge also set aside the N500,000 fines imposed, on 1 March 2019, on each of the 45 broadcast stations.
According to him, NBC is not a court of law nor Nigerian police, therefore, has no power to impose sanctions as punishment on broadcast stations and the power to conduct a criminal investigation that would lead to criminal trial and imposition of sanctions.
He further held 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.
Mr. Omotosho said the court would not sit idle and watch a body imposing fine arbitrarily without recourse to the law.
He 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 said, “This will go against the doctrine of separation of powers.”
Mr. Omotosho held that what the doctrine sought to achieve was to prevent tyranny by concentrating too much power in one organ. “The action of the respondent qualifies as excessiveness” as it had ascribed to itself the judicial and executive powers.
They, therefore, sought an order setting aside the N500,000 fines purportedly imposed by NBC on each of the 45 broadcast stations on Friday, 1 March 2019.
They also sought “an order of perpetual Injunction restraining the respondent, its servants, agents, privies, representatives or anyone acting for or on its behalf, from imposing fines on any of the broadcast stations or any other broadcast station in Nigeria for any alleged offence committed under the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.”
Mr. Omotosho held that the fines imposed by the NBC as punishment for the commission of various offences under its code were contrary to the law and hereby declared unconstitutional, null, and void.