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On Wednesday, May 10, 2023, a Federal High Court in Abuja issued an order of perpetual injunction, barring the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from imposing fines on broadcast stations in Nigeria.

May 10, 2023

The order comes after Justice James Omotosho set aside the ₦500,000 fines levied on each of the 45 broadcast stations by the NBC on March 1.

Justice Omotosho argued that the NBC, as a non-judicial body, lacked the power to impose sanctions on broadcast stations.

Additionally, he found that the NBC Code, which grants the commission the power to impose sanctions, contradicted Section 6 of the Constitution, which vests judicial power in the court of law.

Justice Omotosho contended that it was not within the court’s purview to allow an arbitrary body to impose fines without recourse to the law. He also noted that the commission acted outside the bounds of the law by acting as both a complainant and a judge in its own matter.

The judge concurred that the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, as subsidiary legislation, cannot confer judicial powers on the commission to impose criminal sanctions or penalties, such as fines.

He also stated that the commission did not have the authority to conduct a criminal investigation that could lead to criminal trial and the imposition of sanctions, which goes against the doctrine of separation of powers.

Justice Omotosho held that the commission’s actions exceeded its powers, as it had claimed both judicial and executive powers. He stated that the doctrine of separation of powers aims to prevent tyranny by not allowing too much power to be concentrated in one organ. (Pulse)

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