The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), and 261 concerned Nigerians, civil society organisations, and media groups have filed a lawsuit against the National Broadcasting Commission [NBC] and Minister of Information and Culture Mr Lai Mohammed.
This lawsuit instituted by the SERAP is over the fines imposed on Channels Television, AIT and also Arise TV for their coverage of the EndSARS protests in the country.
SERAP and the 261 others concerned about it are now asking the court to “declare arbitrary, illegal, and unconstitutional the N9m fines imposed on Channels, AIT and Arise TV [N3m each] over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests, and to stop the NBC from collecting the money”.
In a statement by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, on Sunday, November 1; SERAP said the co-plaintiffs in the suit are 255 concerned Nigerians; Premium Times Services Limited; Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development; HEDA Resource Centre; International Centre for Investigative Reporting; African Centre for Media and Information Literacy; and Media Rights Agenda.
The acting Director-General of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, who is joined in the suit as Defendant, had last week announced fines of N9 million on Channels; as well as AIT; and also Arise TV for purported “unprofessional coverage” of the #EndSARS protests across the country.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued among other things that “Section (2)(n) of the NBC Act and the Broadcasting Code are oppressive; and also clearly inconsistent with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international obligations”.
“If the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed are allowed to continue to use these oppressive provisions; against independent media in the guise of performing their statutory duties; the end result will be authoritarianism; and also denial of freedom and liberty,” they warned.