Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) have filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari, urging the court to “declare arbitrary and illegal the N5million imposed on Multichoice Nigeria Limited, Trust TV, NTA-Startimes Limited and Telccom Satellite Limited, over their documentaries on terrorism in the country.”
Joined in the suit as defendants are Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
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NBC had last week imposed fines on the media houses, insisting that their documentaries “glorified the activities of bandits and undermines national security in Nigeria” and contravene the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
However, in suit number FHC/L/CS/1486/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP and CJID are seeking: “an order setting aside the arbitrary and illegal fines of N5million and any other penal sanction unilaterally imposed by the NBC on these media houses simply for carrying out their constitutional duties.”
The suit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by their lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo.
The plaintiffs said: “The NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed haven’t shown that the documentaries by the media houses would impose a specific risk of harm to a legitimate State interest that outweighs the public interest in the information provided by the documentaries.
“The action by the NBC and Lai Mohammed is arbitrary, illegal, and unconstitutional, as it’s contrary to section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution and international human rights treaties, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Nigeria has ratified.”
A date is yet to be fixed for the hearing of the suit.