The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday, declined the National Broadcasting Commission’s (NBC) request to revoke an order preventing the agency from imposing fines on broadcast stations.
Justice James Omotosho of the Federal High Court in Abuja had on May 10, in a case filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Media Rights Agenda, held that NBC lacked powers to penalize broadcast stations.
The lawsuit stemmed from the NBC’s sanctions against 45 broadcast stations on March 1, 2019, for purported “ethical infractions during the general election,” where the affected media houses were fined N500,000 each by the NBC.
However, Justice Omotosho nullified these fines, citing a violation of the media houses’ Constitutional right to fair hearing under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
Expressing dissatisfaction with the ruling, NBC counsel Babatunde Ogala SAN urged the court to overturn the “default judgment,” asserting that it lacked jurisdiction and claiming non-receipt of the case’s originating processes before the judgment.
Despite these contentions, Justice Omotosho reviewed the court’s records and confirmed that the NBC had received all pertinent documents, including hearing notices, contradicting the lawyer’s claim.
Regarding the alleged abuse of court process, Justice Omotosho pointed out the NBC’s failure to disclose a similar ongoing case in another court, emphasizing the agency’s obligation to inform the court, which it neglected.
Consequently, the judge deemed the NBC’s attempt to reverse the judgment as insubstantial, considering it an afterthought, and thus refused the application.