Anti-Torture Act: Court Grants MRA Permission To Sue AGF

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos has granted Media Rights Agenda (MRA) permission to apply for an order of mandamus to compel the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) to exercise the mandatory legal duty stipulated in Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 to make rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act.

Justice Tijjani Garba Ringim issued the order allowing MRA to apply to the court to compel the Attorney-General of the Federation to make the rules and regulations following a motion bought on behalf of MRA by its lawyer, Mrs. Bankeye Akinwale, in which the organization claimed that although Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act mandated the Attorney-General to make rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act, he has since 2017 failed to do so.

The organisation is complaining that despite the enactment of the Act in 2017, there have continued to be various allegations made by journalists, and other individuals and citizens of Nigeria of being subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment by officials of law enforcement agencies and other government officials and non-state actors.

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MRA said in an effort to ensure that the Attorney-General complies with the provision of the law, it wrote a letter of demand dated August 20, 2021, to him requesting him to perform the statutory duty imposed on him by the Act but that the Minister has failed, neglected and refused to comply with the demand and to perform his statutory duty.

The organisation said following the failure of the Attorney-General to perform the statutory duty imposed on him by the Section 11 of the Act, it decided to approach the court to ask for an order granting the organization permission to apply for an order of mandamus to compel him to perform the mandatory legal duty imposed on him by Section 11 of the Act.

Ruling on the motion, Justice Ringim said after careful consideration of the application, upon reading through the verifying affidavit deposed to by Mr. John Gbadamosi, MRA’s Programme Officer, as well as the exhibits attached and after hearing the submissions of Mrs. Akinwale, MRA’s lawyer who moved in terms of the motion paper, he was granting an order to MRA to apply to the court for the order of mandamus that it is seeking.

Specifically, the judge gave clearance to MRA to apply for an order of mandamus to compel the Attorney-General to exercise the mandatory legal duty stipulated in Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 and for the organization to seek the following reliefs:

· A declaration that the failure of the Attorney-General to make rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 as imposed on him by Section 11 of the Act is a breach of the law;

· An order of mandamus compelling the Attorney-General to carry out the duty imposed on him by Section 11 of the Act;

· An order of mandamus compelling the Attorney-General to carry out the request contained in MRA’s letter of demand dated August 20, 2021, delivered to him on August 23, 2021, wherein MRA requested him to make the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act;

· An order directing the Attorney-General to pay to the organization the sum of N5 million as exemplary and aggravated damages for the flagrant violation of Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017.

Justice Ringim, however, ruled that the grant of the order is conditional on MRA filing a written undertaking for costs within two days of the ruling in the event that it turns out that the order ought not to have been granted in the first place.

#EndSARS: MRA Asks Court To Declare Fines NBC Imposed On Channels TV, ARISE TV, AIT Unlawful

 

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Ibadan, Oyo State, challenging the powers of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to impose fines on broadcasting stations.

The organisation which insists that NBC is not a judicial body is asking the court to set aside the fines of N3 million each imposed by NBC on three television stations on October 23 as unlawfully imposed and therefore null and void.

The group announced this is a release signed on Monday by its Communication Officer, Idowu Adewale.

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MRA in the suit filed on its behalf by Ibadan-based lawyer, Mr. Boluwatife Sanya, is asking the court to declare the fines imposed by the NBC on Channels Television, ARISE Television and the Africa Independent Television (AIT) over their coverage of the #ENDSARS protests null and void.

They are also asking the court to set aside the fines as unlawfully imposed, and issue a perpetual injunction restraining the Commission from imposing sanctions or fines or other unlawful or unconstitutional restrictions on television and radio stations in Nigeria.

Media Rights Agenda logo.

 

MRA is also seeking the following reliefs for the three television stations.

“A declaration that the NBC’s arbitrary act of sanctioning and imposing fines of N3 million each on ARISE TV, Channels TV, and AIT purportedly in line with Sections 5.6.3 and 5.6.9 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code creates a chilling or stifling effect on freedom of expression and is likely to interfere with the right of MRA’s members to freedom of expression, particularly their right to receive ideas and information without interference as guaranteed by section 39 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the African Charter.

“A declaration that the fine of N3 million each imposed on the stations constitutes an interference with the rights of MRA’s members to freedom of expression, particularly their right to receive ideas and information without interference guaranteed by section 39 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the African Charter.

“A declaration that the NBC, not being a judicial body, lacks the power to impose fines on any broadcaster, including fines imposed on the three stations, and that the imposition of such fines is null and void and a consequential order setting aside the fines of N3 million each imposed on the three stations as the fines were unlawfully imposed.”

The group also seek a perpetual injunction restraining the NBC, its officers, agents and/or representatives from imposing sanctions or fines or excessive, disproportionate, unlawful, and unconstitutional restrictions on television or radio stations which will interfere with the rights of MRA’s members to freedom of expression, particularly their right to receive ideas and information without interference.

The suit is supported by an 18-paragraph affidavit deposed to on behalf of MRA by Ms Mercy Abudu, in which she recounted the circumstances surrounding the imposition of the fines on the three stations and concerns of censorship of the television stations expressed by members of MRA and their fears that the action would infringe on their rights to receive information and ideas from the stations.

No date has been fixed for the hearing.