Court nullifies NBC suspension of AIT, Raypower license

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on June 7th, 2019

Abuja, Nigeria: The Justice Inyang Ekwo-led Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has, Friday, nullified the suspension of operating license of Daar Communications PLC, operator of AIT and Ray Power, ordering both NBC and DAAR who are parties in the case of DAAR communications and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to maintain the status quo pending a hearing on June 13, 2019.

The National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, had, Thursday, suspended the operating license of the Daar Communications PLC, operator of AIT and Ray Power over alleged breach of the NBC’s broadcasting code.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, while delivering the order, mandated the FG government and NBC to appear before it to show cause why a revert to May 30, 2019 status quo ante bellum, sought by Daar Communications PLC should not be granted.

Justice Ekwo had ordered the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and the Attorney General of the Federation to appear before the court on Thursday, June 13 to show cause why the motion on notice by Daar Communications PLC, challenging the ban should not be granted.

However, In an ex parte application, Daar Communications PLC, had, through its lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), on Thursday, asked the court to order the Commission to revert its ban. Daar Communications PLC, In the suit against the NBC, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Daar claimed that did not breach any broadcast code.

It asked the court to grant its prayers in “restraining the defendants from blocking, jamming, stopping removing from air and/or interfering with the air waves of the plaintiff/applicant (Daar Plc) in any way and manner however called from invading the premises of the plaintiff/applicant (Daar Plc) or closing down, viet armis, the said premises, its operations or broadcast services, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed along with this application.”

Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) condemns indefinite suspension of DAAR licence

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned the indefinite suspension of the licences of the African Independent Television, AIT, and Ray Power by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) operated by Daar Communications Limited.

The Guild demanded the revocation of the suspension order.

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) suspended the license of Daar Communications for allegedly flaunting Nigerian Broadcasting Code.

“It runs contrary to the ideals of free speech and the fine tenets of press freedom. This is a case of Executive highhandedness and it paints our dear country in the darkest tar of dictatorship”, the president, Funke
Egbemode said in a statement in Abuja on Friday.
She said the Fourth Estate of the Realm remained the watchdog of the society and that any attempt to gag it was an affront on democracy and the people.

“The NBC must and should rescind this ignoble and despicable decision”, the statement read.
The NGE said it condemned the ‘barbaric crackdown’ on the broadcast outfit and demanded the immediate cessation of what it called atrocious repression and excessive show of power by the NBC, whose duty is to regulate and not kill the media.

Funke cautioned the NBC that hutting down stations and withdrawing licences were excessive and advised the regulatory body to find better ways of resolving disputes with broadcasters.

NBC had, before the 2019 general election, shut down Joy FM in Jos for violating the broadcasting code. Last year it shut down Ekiti Radio/TV station.

Hate speech, divisive and inciting comments

The Director-General of NBC, Malam Ishaq Modibbo-Kawu had said the suspension had nothing to do with his membership of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC.

Malam Kawu said over the last two years, NBC summoned the management of the company to address issues particularly on Political Platform and Kakaaki.

He explained that in one of its meetings, the commission expressed disappointment with the way and manner hate speech, divisive and inciting comments are applied in the discussion of national issues in breach of the provisions of the NBC Act and Broadcast Code.

“Where inciting comments like, “Nigeria is cursed, “we declare an independent state of Niger Delta”, “Nigeria irritates me”, “this country is gradually Islamising” and other similar slogans are used without editorial control in breach of the broadcast Code.

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