An Abuja Federal High Court has barred the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from imposing fines on Nigerian broadcast stations. In his ruling on Wednesday, presiding Judge, Justice James Omotosho said the NBC lacks the judicial powers to impose penalties.
Justice Omotosho gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining the NBC from imposing fines, henceforth, on broadcast stations in the country. The judge also set aside the N500,000 fines imposed, on March 1, 2019, on 45 broadcast stations.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the NBC had, on March 1, 2019, imposed a fine of N500,000 each on 45 broadcast stations in the country over alleged violation of its code.
Justice Omotosho held that the NBC, not being a court of law, has no power to impose sanctions as punishment on broadcast stations. He also held that the NBC Code, which gives the commission the power to impose sanctions, is in conflict with Section 6 of the Constitution that vested judicial power in the court of law.
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He 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 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.