Falana Wades In On The Drama Between NBC And AIT Face Off - AMEBO ONLINE NEWSPAPER


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Falana Wades In On The Drama Between NBC And AIT Face Off

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Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana said the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) does not have the power to suspend the operating licences of media organisations without an order from the court.

In a statement on Sunday, June 9, 2019, Falana also said that the regulatory body does not have the power to impose fine on erring artistes or stop radio stations from playing their records without getting an order from the court.

On Thursday, June 6, 2019, the NBC suspended the licences of African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower over ‘breach of broadcasting codes’.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria while reacting to the NBC sanction described the suspension as a dangerous trend.

“No doubt, the NBC has been empowered by the NBC Act to regulate all broadcasting organisations in the country. But in exercising its wide powers NBC has to be made to appreciate that it can no longer operate outside the ambit of the Constitution as was the case under military rule,” he said.

“Since fundamental rights including freedom of expression can no longer be curtailed or abrogated except in a manner permitted by law, the NBC ought to realise that it cannot suspend licences of media houses, ban radio houses from playing records of artists or impose fines on alleged offenders without a court order.

“Alternatively, the NBC may request the Attorney-General to charge a media house for breaching the provisions of the NBC Act or penal statutes. Otherwise, the powers of the NBC may be arbitrarily exercised to the detriment of law and order in the society.”

However, barely 24 hours after the NBC shut down the station, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday, June 7, 2019, ordered the National Broadcasting Corporations to reopen the stations.

Falana descried the court order and the reopening of the stations as a victory for democracy. 

The lawyer also called on security agencies that reportedly mounted a siege on the stations after its reopening to withdraw their men from the media house’s premises.

He said, “The NBC has just lifted the suspension of the licences of AIT and Raypower FM Radio stations in compliance with the ex parte order granted by the federal high court. It is hoped that the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force and State Security Service will withdraw the armed goons mounting siege in the compound of the AIT/Raypower FM stations without any delay,” he said.

“As far as democratic forces in the country are concerned, the battle for press freedom has been won, once again. But it is a temporary victory which should not be celebrated without caution.

“Even under the most vicious military junta in Nigeria the courts ordered the reopening of the premises of the National Concord and Punch newspapers which were illegally closed down and occupied for months by armed troops. And the court orders were complied with by the military dictators.”

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