Home Courts Court dismisses suit seeking to set aside judgment that stops NBC from...

Court dismisses suit seeking to set aside judgment that stops NBC from imposing fines on broadcast station

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The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday dismissed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)’s motion seeking an order to set aside its judgment restraining the commission from imposing fines on broadcast stations.

Justice James Omotosho, in a judgment, dismissed all the grounds put forward by the NBC, describing it as “an afterthought.”

Mr Omotosho held that despite being served with the originating process and hearing notices in the case leading to the judgment, the commission failed to file its defence.

The judge said that contrary to the NBC’s argument that it was not served with court processes that led to the judgement, “the court file shows that services were effected on the respondent applicant (NBC) but failed to file and refused to enter appearance.”

He said there was an affidavit of facts deposed to by the court bailiff that confirmed that court processes were served on the commission on different occasions.

“The respondent applicant cannot claim it was not served. The objection is hereby overruled,” he said.

Mr Omotosho had, on May 10, given an order of perpetual injunction restraining NBC from imposing fines on broadcast stations.

The judge also set aside the N500,000 fines imposed on March 1, 2019, on each of the 45 broadcast stations alleged to have violated its code.

He held that NBC, not being a court of law, had no power to impose sanctions as punishment on broadcast stations.

Mr Omotoso further held that the NBC code, which gives the commission the power to impose sanctions, conflicts with section 6 of the constitution, which vested judicial power in the court of law.

The judgment followed a suit filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Media Rights Agenda marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1386/2021.

In the originating motion, the group sued NBC as the sole respondent.

In the motion dated November 9, 2021, by its lawyer, Noah Ajare, the group sought a declaration that the sanctions procedure applied by NBC in imposing N500,00O fines on each of the 45 broadcast stations on March 1, 2019, was a violation of the rules of natural justice, among others.

However, after the delivery of the judgment, NBC filed a motion on notice through its lawyer, Babatunde Ogala, SAN, seeking “an order setting aside the default judgment, being a judgment reached per incuriam and without jurisdiction.”

Giving a 20-ground argument, the commission said the originating motion in the suit, which birthed the judgement delivered on May 10, was not served on them.

It argued that the rights group had two unappealed, subsisting and binding decisions of the FHC on the same issues on the parties.

(NAN)

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