Buhari sued over fines imposed on Multichoice and other media sources
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Buhari sued over fines imposed on Multichoice and other media sources

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said on Sunday that it had launched a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari for fining various media outlets over terrorism support and glorification charges.

The civil society organization requested that the court “declare arbitrary and illegal the N5 million punishment imposed on Trust TV, Multichoice Nigeria Limited, NTA-Startimes Limited, and Telcom Satellite Limited for their documentary on terrorism in the country.”

The Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) joined the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as defendants in the claim.

This information is contained in a public statement released by SERAP on August 7, 2022, and is available on its website.

SERAP and CJID are seeking “an order setting aside the arbitrary and illegal fines of N5 million and any other penal sanction unilaterally imposed by the NBC on these media houses simply for carrying out their constitutional duties” in suit number FHC/L/CS/1486/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Adelanke Aremo, filed the claim on their behalf (SERAP and CJID).

SERAP and CJID in the suit want the court to make some of these declarations, among others;

  • The act of the Defendants imposing a fine of N5 million each on the independent media houses as unlawful, inconsistent with, and amounts to a breach of the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality, and, therefore, a violation of the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom;
  • That the use of the Broadcasting Code by NBC to impose sanctions on the independent media houses for alleged infractions without recourse to the court constitutes an infringement on the provisions of sections 6[1] & [6][b] and 36[1] of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 and Articles 1 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’Peoples’ Rights and Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party;
  • That the Defendants lack the legal power and authority to impose penalty unlawfully and unilaterally, including fines, suspension, withdrawal of license, or any form of punishment whatsoever on the independent media houses for promoting access to diverse opinions and information on issues of public importance.

The claim by SERAP is in the best interest of the media sources and citizens by enforcing fundamental human rights.

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