N2.5bn Fraud: You Have A Case To Answer, Court Tells Kawu, Others

 

Kawu was appointed as NBC DG in 2016 Photo: @Kawu.Modibbo/Facebook

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has dismissed the appeal filed by the suspended Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Moddibbo Kawu, challenging the decision of the Federal High Court to dismiss the no-case submission he filed at the lower court.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by the spokesperson for the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Azuka Ogugua.

ICPC had jointly charged Kawu, Mr. Lucky Omoluwa (late Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Ltd) and Dipo Onifade, Chief Operating Officer of the same company before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa for allegedly paying the sum of N2.5 billion seed grant for the Digital Switch-Over (DSO) project to Pinnacle Communications Limited.

In a 12-count charge, they were arraigned for abuse of office, money laundering and misleading a public officer with the intent to defraud the Federal Government, in contravention of Sections 26 (1) (c) and punishable under the Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

READ ALSO: Alleged N69.4bn Debt: Jimoh Ibrahim Seeks Reversal Of Assets Seizure

Kawu, through his counsel, A. U. Mustapha (SAN) filed a no-case submission in December 2019 at the close of the prosecution’s case, praying the court to discharge and acquaint him of the charge brought against him by ICPC.

Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa while delivering her ruling in February 2020 held that ICPC had established a prima facie against Kawu, Onifade and Pinnacle Communications Limited, and ruled that they have a case to answer.

The suspended NBC boss and his co-accused then approached the appellate court to upturn the judgment of the Federal High Court.

#EndSARS: SERAP And 261 Others Sue NBC, Ask Court To Overturn Fines On Channels TV, AIT, Arise TV

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees
A logo of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

 

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP),  and 261 concerned Nigerians, civil society organisations, and media groups have filed a lawsuit against the National Broadcasting Commission [NBC] and Minister of Information and Culture Mr Lai Mohammed over the fines the commission imposed on Channels Television, AIT and Arise TV for their coverage of the EndSARS protests in the country.

A fine of N3million slammed on each of the broadcasters by NBC last week sparked outrage and criticism with many calling for it to be withdrawn.

SERAP and the 261 others concerned about it are now asking the court to “declare arbitrary, illegal, and unconstitutional the N9m fines imposed on Channels, AIT and Arise TV [N3m each] over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests, and to stop the NBC from collecting the money”.

In a statement by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, on Sunday, SERAP said the co-plaintiffs in the suit are 255 concerned Nigerians; Premium Times Services Limited; Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development; HEDA Resource Centre; International Centre for Investigative Reporting; African Centre for Media and Information Literacy; and Media Rights Agenda.

The acting Director-General of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, who is joined in the suit as Defendant, had last week announced fines of N9 million on Channels, AIT, and Arise TV for purported “unprofessional coverage” of the #EndSARS protests across the country.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued among other things that “Section (2)(n) of the NBC Act and the Broadcasting Code are oppressive, and clearly inconsistent with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international obligations”.

“If the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed are allowed to continue to use these oppressive provisions against independent media in the guise of performing their statutory duties, the end result will be authoritarianism and denial of freedom and liberty,” they warned.

Read the full statement below:

#EndSARS: SERAP, 261 others sue NBC, want court to overturn N9m fines on Channels, AIT, Arise TV

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), 261 concerned Nigerians, civil society and media groups have filed a lawsuit against the National Broadcasting Commission [NBC] and Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, asking the court to “declare arbitrary, illegal, and unconstitutional the N9m fines imposed on Channels, AIT and Arise TV [N3m each] over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests, and to stop the NBC from collecting the money.”

The co-plaintiffs in the suit are 255 concerned Nigerians; Premium Times Services Limited; Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development; HEDA Resource Centre; International Centre for Investigative Reporting; African Centre for Media and Information Literacy; and Media Rights Agenda.

The acting Director-General of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, who is joined in the suit as Defendant, had last week announced fines of N9 million on Channels, AIT, and Arise TV for purported “unprofessional coverage” of the #EndSARS protests across the country.

But in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1436/2020 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, the Plaintiffs are seeking: “an order setting aside the arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional fines of N9 million and any other penal sanction unilaterally imposed by the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed on Channels, AIT and Arise TV, and on any other radio/television stations simply for carrying out their professional and constitutional duties.”

The Plaintiffs are arguing that: “Section (2)(n) of the NBC Act and the Broadcasting Code are oppressive, and clearly inconsistent with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international obligations. If the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed are allowed to continue to use these oppressive provisions against independent media in the guise of performing their statutory duties, the end result will be authoritarianism and denial of freedom and liberty.”

According to the Plaintiffs: “The NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed have consistently used broadcasting codes to suppress the watchdog roles of independent media, and to violate Nigerians’ human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, to disseminate and receive information, and hold their government and public officials to account.”

The Plaintiffs said: “The action by the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed is arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional, as it is contrary to section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Nigeria has ratified. Their action is apparently aimed to clampdown on media freedom and Nigerians’ human rights.”

The Plaintiffs are also seeking “an order setting aside the fine of N5 million and any other penal sanction unilaterally imposed by the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM Lagos, simply for carrying out its professional and constitutional duties.”

The suit filed on behalf of the Plaintiffs by their lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Adelanke Aremo and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “A fine is a criminal sanction and only the court is empowered by the Constitution to impose it. Fine imposed by regulatory agencies like the NBC without recourse to the courts is illegal, unconstitutional and offends the sacred principles of natural justice and fairness.”

“It is the duty of the government to allow the legal and judicial powers of the state to function properly. Imposing any fine whatsoever without due process of law is arbitrary, as it contravenes the principles of nemo judex in causa sua which literally means one cannot be a judge in his own cause and audi alteram partem which literally means no one should be condemned unheard.”

“The NBC, being a regulatory body, is not empowered by law to act as the prosecutor and the judge; all at the same time. We humbly urge the court to set aside the unlawful and unconstitutional fines imposed on independent media houses, and to uphold the sanctity of the Nigerian Constitution, Nigerians’ human rights, media freedom, and the rule of law.”

“The Constitution is the grundnorm and the fundamental law of the land. All other laws including the NBC Act and any associated codes take their hierarchy from the provisions of the Constitution.”

The Plaintiffs are also seeking the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that section 2[n] of the NBC Act and Broadcasting Code used by the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed to impose fines, sanctions and any other penalties on television, radio and on-line broadcast stations and media houses are draconian, inconsistent, and incompatible with the right to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom guaranteed under sections 22 and 39 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 [as amended], Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

A DECLARATION that the action of the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed in relying on section 2[n] of the NBC Act and Broadcasting Code to unilaterally impose punishments such as fines and other sanctions on television, radio and on-line broadcast stations and media houses without recourse to the court violates sections 6[1] & [6][b] and 36[1] of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999;

A DECLARATION that section 2[n] of the NBC Act and the Broadcasting Code, being inconsistent and incompatible with sections 22, 36[1], and 39 of the Constitution of Nigeria, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are null and void to the extent of their inconsistency and incompatibility;

A DECLARATION that the fine of N3m each imposed on Channels, AIT, and Arise TV by the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed for their coverage of the #ENDSARS protests violates the right to freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom guaranteed under sections 22 and 39 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and therefore null and void;

A DECLARATION that the fine of N3m each imposed by NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed on Channels, AIT and Arise TV for their coverage of the #ENDSARS protests without giving the affected media houses the opportunity to respond to the allegations leveled against them and recourse to the court violates sections 6[1] & [6][b] and 36[1] of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 and therefore null and void;

A DECLARATION that the action by the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed to unilaterally impose the fine of N5m on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM without giving the radio station the opportunity to respond to the allegations leveled against it violates the right to fair hearing, enshrined in section 36 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, and therefore null and void;

AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed from imposing fines or doing anything whatsoever to harass Channels, AIT, and Arise TV and any other radio and television broadcast stations, in violation of the section 6[1] & [6][b], 22, 36[1], and 39 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, Article 9 of the African Charter of the on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Kolawole Oluwadare
SERAP Deputy Director
1/11/2020
Lagos, Nigeria

IPC, MRA Ask NBC To Withdraw Fines Against Three TV Stations Over Coverage of #ENDSARS Protests

 

Two groups, the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the International Press Centre (IPC) have condemned the sanctioning of three television stations by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over the coverage of the #ENDSARS protests.

In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the groups described the Commission’s action as an outrageous violation of the Constitution and basic principles of fair hearing which cannot be allowed to stand.

In a letter dated October 23, signed by its Acting Director-General, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, the NBC fined each of the three stations – Channels Television, Africa Independent Television (AIT) and ARISE Television – N3 million each as penalty for their alleged use of unsubstantiated footages from social media in their coverage of the #ENDSARS protests.

To avoid further sanctions, the commission gave the companies three weeks from the date of receipt of the letter to pay the amount.

The NBC said it had earlier written to the companies on October 21, where they were “cautioned on the sustained use of Fake News, disturbing visuals, close-up shots and attacks in the coverage of the #ENDSARS protests”.

It stated that although social media may be a source of information, it is incumbent on broadcasters to verify such materials before usage, while drawing attention to some provisions of the Broadcasting Code, implying that the provisions had been breached.

No specific broadcasts were, however, mentioned.

Both organisations accused the NBC of turning itself into a “kangaroo court” and called on it to immediately reverse its decision sanctioning the three stations in order to save itself the embarrassment that both the Commission and the country would suffer locally and internationally as a result of its action.

MRA’s Executive Director, Mr Edetaen Ojo, said: “a situation where the NBC, which is so glaringly lacking in independence and subject to the direct control of political authorities, wrote the Nigeria Broadcasting Code creating the offences for which the stations were sanctioned and was the complainant in the allegations against the stations, prosecuted them and sat in judgment on the matter without even giving the stations any opportunity to defend themselves against the charges while also imposing a fine of N3 million on each of them, which it intends to collect and pocket, is offensive to any notion of fair hearing, equity or justice.”

According to Ojo, “Every Nigerian ought to be scandalized by this obscene violation of a principle that is sacrosanct not only under our Constitution but under every regional and international human rights instrument to which Nigeria is a state party. It portrays Nigeria as crude and primitive and will no doubt bring the country to ridicule.”

He pledged that his organisation would take legal action to challenge the NBC’s action.

The IPC’s Executive Director Mr Lanre Arogundade, also said: “the NBC has in this matter again constituted itself into the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge in its own case. It is indeed strange that the fines were arbitrarily imposed without giving the concerned media outlets the option of defending the allegations. All this constitutes an affront on rule of law.”

Mr Arogundade said IPC would team up with MRA to use the instrumentality of the law to challenge the absurdities perpetrated by NBC.

NBC Holds Sixth Annual Lecture 2020

Ekiti Broadcasting Service To Resume Operations After NBC Shutdown
File: NBC logo

 

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is holding its sixth annual lecture.

The event taking place in Abuja, the nation’s capital is to celebrate NBC’s 28th anniversary.

In attendance is the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Acting Director-General of NBC, Professor Armstrong Idachaba among other stakeholders in the nation’s broadcasting industry.

Falana Kicks Against N5m NBC Fine, Says Act Is Illegal

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has described the N5m fine on Lagos-based radio station, Nigeria Info 99.3 FM by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as illegal.

The Human Rights Lawyer said this in a statement he personally signed and wondered why the NBC will be in a hurry to penalise the radio station

While noting that the State Security Service (SSS) has not concluded an investigation into the radio station’s guest, Dr Mailafia Obadiah, Falana asked why the Commission was in a hurry to violate the broadcast firm’s fundamental right.

According to him, it is only a competent court of law that has the right to impose fines on a criminal suspect after conducting a trial.

“Only a competent court of law is empowered to try, convict and impose a fine on a criminal suspect after a trial has been conducted before a competent court.

“In view of the fact that the imposition of the N5 million fine was anchored on a purported amendment of the Code and since the NBC lacks the legal competence to impose a fine on any broadcasting station without a finding of guilt by a properly constituted criminal court the NBC should suo mutu quash the illegal fine,” Falana said.

READ ALSO: Mailafia: NBC Fines Radio Station N5m For Unprofessional Broadcast

The senior lawyer added that: “Section 33 (4) of the Constitution provides that anyone charged with a criminal offence shall be tried before a competent court or tribunal.”

He noted that in the case between the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited at the Federal High Court, Honourable Justice Ojukwu held that the imposition of fines by regulatory agencies was unlawful.

The NBC had said the fine was imposed on the media outfit due to its unprofessional broadcast.

It explained that Nigeria Info was not professional in the handling of its morning show aired between 8.30 am and 9.00 am on Monday.

NBC stated that the station provided its platform for its guest and a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Mailafia Obadiah, to promote “unverifiable and inciting views,” saying such could lead to public disorder.

NBC Board Disagrees With Lai Mohammed, Rejects Amended NBC Code (Full Statement)

NBC Board Chairman, Ikra Bilbis, addressing a news conference in Abuja on August 13, 2020.

 

The Board of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has kicked against the amendments to the sixth edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

The Chairman of the Board, Ikra Bilbis, stated the position of the board on Thursday while addressing a news conference in Abuja.

“As a board, we have received and taken our time to compile the responses of numerous stakeholders which include our Nobel Laureate, activists, legal practitioners, broadcasters, investors, Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), content creators, copyright experts, and professional organisations.

“Most of them have adduced reasonable reasons against the proposed amendment,” said Bilbis who is a former Minister of State for Information.

He explained that the management of the commission did not undertake a proper consultation before making the amendments to the code.

READ ALSOFG Launches Amended Broadcasting Code, Says Hate Speech Fine Now N5m

The former minister decried that the amendments to the code were capable of destroying investments in the nation’s broadcast sector.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, briefs reporters at the unveiling of the reviewed 6th Broadcasting Code in Lagos on August 4, 2020.

 

He stressed that the board was not in support of the reviewed code unveiled by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday last week.

Bilbis noted that some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had made observations to the minister at a meeting about the divisive broadcasts engaged in by some broadcast media before, during, and after the elections.

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had also called for the need to strengthen the operations of the NBC to avert a reoccurrence.

The NBC board chairman, however, stressed that the noble observation of the President was misunderstood by the minister.

“The board of the NBC wishes to make it quite clear that as long as it is in place, the only NB Code that we recognise and which we shall work within the setting of operating policies and standards for the NBC is the 6th edition of the NB Code which was launched in 2019 in Kano.

”Another purported review has no board endorsement,” he stated.

 

Read the full text of Bilbis’ remarks at the briefing below:

THE POSITION OF THE BOARD OF THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION (NBC) ON THE PURPORTED AMENDMENT TO THE 6TH EDITION OF THE NIGERIA BROADCASTING CODE (NB CODE).

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, I welcome you all to this important press briefing on a very touchy issue related to broadcasting in Nigeria.

You may all be aware of the recent negative developments concerning the purported amendment of the NB Code. The wellbeing of the broadcast media has direct relevance to the stability of our democracy. I, therefore, have the pleasure of presenting to you the position of the NBC Board on the issues.

The National Broadcasting Commission is established by law and section 2(h) of the NBC Act empowers the Commission to establish and disseminate a Nigeria Broadcasting Code (NB Code) which sets standards for the quality and content of broadcast materials.

Code review is undertaken every four years and involves the staff of the NBC, Former DG’s, retired Directors of the Commission and all other relevant stakeholders in broadcasting. These include Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Independent Broadcast Association of Nigeria (IBAN), Private Media outfits, Broadcasters, Notable media Intellectuals, Communication experts, Digiteam and the Academia.

The current edition (6th Edition) was presented to the public in 2019 at an elaborate ceremony in Kano which attracted a broad section of various stakeholders.

Following the 2019 national elections, some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) made observations to the Honourable Minister of Information at a FEC meeting about the divisive broadcasts engaged in by some broadcast media before, during and after the elections and the need to strengthen the operations of the NBC to avert such future occurrence.

This noble observation of Mr President was unfortunately misunderstood by the Hon. Minister of Information. Instead of studying and following the Law, relevant rules and regulations, and direct the appropriate authorities as stipulated by the Law to act on, he erroneously embarked on the review alone.

From the history, traditions and the convention of the NBC, no Honourable Minister of Information has ever interfered in any NB Code review. After the 2019 presentation of the 6th code (which is the present one), the Hon. Minister has acted alone with just a handful of his loyalists who have written a new NB Code that has created an uproar in the industry, threatening to destroy investments and lead to job losses.

The Honourable Minister has constantly dropped the name of President Muhammadu Buhari as having approved his own version of the code review. The NB Code is a regulatory framework put together jointly by stakeholders to guide their operations in the industry. It is therefore not a unilateral government instrument and is already covered by Law hence, not requiring any further Presidential approval. This might be the reason why till date the Hon. Minister cannot show us a copy of the Presidential approval.

President Buhari is a stickler for due process and he always insists on organisations doing the right thing. The Honourable Minister’s version of the revised NB Code does not meet any known criteria of due process and inclusiveness of stakeholders.

The Director overseeing the office of the DG of the NBC has equally made insinuations that the Board endorsed the amendments culminating in its ‘public presentation’ on 26th March 2020 at the L’eola Hotel in Lagos. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The “public presentation” was actually attended by serving directors in the NBC, one former DG of the NBC, a member representing the Ministry of Information and only four (4) selected stakeholders.

When compared with over sixty (60) stakeholders that attended the 2019 presentation in Kano, there is a wide gap in industry representation. We have the list of the four hand-picked stakeholders at the Lagos “presentation”. The Board of the NBC was neither informed nor represented.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you may all recall that by 26th march 2020, (the day of the “Public Presentation” in Lagos), the Federal Government had already announced a COVID-19 lockdown of Lagos, Ogun states and the FCT. It was therefore not a sincere effort to present such an important ‘review document’ which affects people’s investments and livelihoods under such situation.

The attendant public outcry over the purported review of some sensitive sections of the NB Code compelled the Board of the NBC to institute a process through which stakeholders could express their opinions and harmonise their feelings with what the Honourable Minister had unilaterally created.

The Board convened a meeting which included the Director overseeing the office of the DG in attendance. The unanimous decision was to issue a press release inviting inputs from various stakeholders. It became clear to the Board that even though the Director overseeing the DG’s office subscribed to the unanimous decision of the Board, he was inclined to sabotaging the press release for obvious reasons.

The Board, on its own, chose to be proactive by taking Five (5) National Newspaper announcements seeking inputs from relevant stakeholders in furtherance of the principle of equity, fairness and creating a level playing ground for all stakeholders.

Most surprising was the rejoinder issued by the Director overseeing the office of the DG stating that the notice published by the Board seeking stakeholders input does not have the ‘official endorsement of the Commission’. Sections 5(4), 5(2) 1(d), (g) and (h) and sections 3 of the NBC Act state categorically the powers and composition of the Commission and under whose purview the management of Commission falls.

There are very serious and disturbing amendments which have been unilaterally carried out by the Hon. Minister. This has attracted very critical comments with threats of litigation from concerned organisations and individuals.

As a Board, we have received and taken our time to compile the responses of numerous stakeholders which include our Nobel Laurette, Activists, Legal Practitioners, Broadcasters, Investors, BON, Content Creators, Copyright experts and professional organisations. Most of them have adduced reasonable reasons against the proposed amendment.

As a Board that supervises the affairs of the NBC, it is important that we state that we cannot fold our arms and watch the activities of the Honourable Minister which is directed at destroying the modest gains the Broadcast Industry has achieved since the setting up of the Commission and the deregulation of Broadcasting in Nigeria.

While not disputing the fact that there are many challenges in the sector, the quest to find solutions cannot be totally assumed by one man. Approaches to solutions must be through wide consultations, discussions, persuasion and concession. Dictatorship tends to ruin businesses and prompt divestment. The Hon. Minister seems to have taken the option of working from an answer to the question instead of vice versa. We are in an era of democracy.

The NBC was set up by law and there is an Act that guides its operations. The Honourable Minister, therefore, cannot usurp the powers of the Board as clearly stated in the Act. Any such action by the Honourable Minister is illegal.

The Board of the NBC wishes to make it quite clear that as long as it is in place, the only NB Code that we recognise and which we shall work within the setting of operating policies and standards for the NBC is the 6th edition of the NB Code which was launched in 2019 in Kano. Any other purported review has no Board endorsement and therefore cannot be utilised in regulating broadcasting in Nigeria.

The danger of allowing the unilateral amendment of the NB Code to stand is that investors in the industry will loose confidence in the stability the broadcast ecosystem has enjoyed till date before the advent of the current Minister of Information.

Our President and his team have worked so hard to galvanise local and foreign investment in Nigeria. Allowing obnoxious policies to take root in our Investment Culture will spell doom for creativity, enterprise, diversity and the general development of broadcasting in Nigeria.

I leave you with the words of the famous American President Abraham Lincoln who said:

‘’You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling the wage payer down.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.

You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, which they could and should do for themselves’’.

The very controversial portions of the purported amended code certainly aim at destroying hard work and enterprise. It aims at taking people’s freedom and intellectual property. It aims at depriving hard-working entrepreneurs to empower new entrants who have not cut their teeth and it aims at stifling investment. That is the main reason why stakeholder inputs are been avoided.

I shall take a few questions and allow some of my colleagues and Industry experts to handle details in some areas.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you.

Ikra Aliyu Bilbis

Chairman, NBC Board

13/08/2020

Mailafia: NBC Fines Radio Station N5m For Unprofessional Broadcast

A file photo of the acting Director-General of NBC, Professor Armstrong Idachaba.

 

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has fined a Lagos-based radio station – Nigeria Info 99.3 FM N5 million.

In a statement obtained by Channels Television on Thursday, the commission said the fine was imposed as a result of unprofessional broadcast by the media outfit.

It explained that Nigeria Info was not professional in the handling of its morning show aired between 8.30am and 9.00am on Monday.

NBC stated that the station provided its platform for its guest and a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Mailafia Obadiah, to promote “unverifiable and inciting views,” saying such could lead to public disorder.

READ ALSO: FG Launches Amended Broadcasting Code, Says Hate Speech Fine Now N5m

It added that the action of the radio station was in violation of some sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code

According to the commission, the fine imposed on Nigeria Info will serve as a deterrent to all other broadcast stations are quick to provide platforms for “subversive rhetoric and the expositions of spurious and unverifiable claims”, to desist from such.

This comes a week after the Federal Government launched the reviewed sixth Broadcasting Code of the NBC.

(FILE) A former CBN Deputy Governor, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, speaks during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the government had raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million.

Read the full statement signed by the management of NBC below:

PRESS RELEASE

THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION FINES Nigeria Info 99.3FM FOR UNPROFESSIONAL BROADCAST

The National Broadcasting Commission has noted with grave concern, the unprofessional conduct of Nigeria Info 99.3FM, Lagos, in the handling of the Programme, “Morning Cross Fire”, aired on August 10, 2020, between 8.30am and 9.00am.

The station provided its platform for the guest, Dr Mailafia Obadiah, to promote unverifiable and inciting views that could encourage or incite to crime and lead to public disorder.

The Commission, again, wishes to reiterate that Broadcasters hold Licenses in trust for the people. Therefore, no Broadcast Station should be used, to promote personal or sectional interests at the expense of the people.

Dr Mailafia Obadia’s comments on the “Southern Kaduna Crisis”, were devoid of facts and by broadcasting same to the public, Nigeria Info 99.3FM, is in violation of the following sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code:

3.1.1           No broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder or hate,   be repugnant to public feelings or contain offensive reference to any person or organization, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity;

3.1.2        Broadcasting shall promote human dignity, therefore, hate speech is prohibited;

3.3.1 (a) The broadcaster shall ensure that any information given in a programme, in whatever form, is accurate;

3.3.3.1(b)    The Broadcaster shall ensure that all sides to any issue of public interest are equitably presented for fairness and balance;

3.11.1(a)     The broadcaster shall ensure that language or scene likely to   encourage or incite to crime, or lead to disorder, is not broadcast;

3.11.1(b)    No programme contains anything which amounts to subversion of constituted authority or compromises the unity or corporate existence of Nigeria as a sovereign state;

5.4.1(f)       The Broadcaster shall not transmit divisive materials that may threaten or compromise the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a sovereign state.

Consequent on these provisions and in line with the amendment of the 6thedition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, Nigeria Info 99.3FM Lagos, has been fined the sum of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira), only.

This is expected to serve as a deterrent to all other broadcast stations in Nigeria who are quick to provide a platform for subversive rhetoric and the expositions of spurious and unverifiable claims, to desist from such.

The Commission wishes to put it on record that it will not hesitate to suspend the Broadcast Licence of broadcast stations that continue to breach the Code.

Stations are, by this statement, admonished to desist forthwith, from airing unwholesome content or be ready to face appropriate sanctions.

Signed:

MANAGEMENT

Revised NBC Code Is Not Standard Document For Regulating Broadcasting, Says Iredia

 

The reviewed Nigeria Broadcasting Code is not a standard document for the regulation of broadcasting in Nigeria and stakeholders were not properly consulted, according to Professor Tonnie Iredia. 

Professor Iredia, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), claims that the NBC Code pushes fear into the mind of practitioners.

The Professor of Broadcast Management and Media Law said this on Wednesday during Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily. 

While arguing that the broadcast industry is key to the enlightenment of the people,  he warned that the over-regulation of the sector will not augur well for the country.

READ ALSO: Let’s Find A Way To Tackle Hate Speech, Fake News – Lawan

He explained the broadcasting code is supposed to be a guide and not seen as an instrument for regulation, adding that a broadcast code needs the input of all stakeholders to make it stand the test of time.

According to him, “the NBC just rolled out a number of things that it felt should be in the code and did not hold consultations with the stakeholders like the previous managers of the system did, you first of all hold consultation, everybody will look at it, there will be a document, you will bring it out at the tail end, there will still be another kind of peer review and all kinds of things.

“Just as I said at the beginning, the code was supposed to be a professional guide. It was supposed to be a masterpiece that promotes professional excellence in broadcasting but now it is filled with sanctions of what you will do and not do.

“And the bodies that should have been consulted were not consulted. Rather, they were being told that it is subject to review and all their objections now will be taken into consideration in the next review.”

Hate Speech Fine Now N5m

On Tuesday, the Federal Government launched the reviewed sixth NBC code.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who unveiled the document at an event in Lagos, revealed that the government has raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million.

He explained that the code was reviewed in line with the directive of the President for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the NBC in the wake of the 2019 general elections.

Mr Lai Mohammed noted that President Buhari had also ordered the probe of the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during, and after the polls.

He stated that following the inquiry, the President approved many recommendations aimed at repositioning the NBC to better perform its regulatory role.

The minister highlighted that notable among the recommendations was the need to amend the provisions in the Broadcasting Code and Act.

He, however, decried that reactions to the last amendment were concerns who thought their business interest was superior to that of the nation.

He also raised concerns that such persons have resorted to blackmail and using what he called hack writers.

 

FG Launches Amended Broadcasting Code, Says Hate Speech Fine Now N5m

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, briefs reporters at the unveiling of the reviewed 6th Broadcasting Code in Lagos on August 4, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has launched the reviewed sixth Broadcasting Code of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who unveiled the document on Tuesday at an event in Lagos revealed that the government has raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million.

He explained that the code was reviewed in line with the directive of the President for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the NBC in the wake of the 2019 general elections.

Mohammed noted that President Buhari had also ordered the probe of the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after the polls.

He stated that following the inquiry, the President approved many recommendations aimed at repositioning the NBC to better perform its regulatory role.

The minister highlighted that notable among the recommendations was the need to amend the provisions in the Broadcasting Code and Act.

He, however, decried that reactions to the last amendment were concerns who thought their business interest was superior to that of the nation.

Mohammed also raised concerns that such persons have resorted to blackmail and using what he called hack writers.

He stated that the government’s intention was the good of the country and stressed the need to catalyse the growth of the local industry and create jobs for creative Nigerian youths.

A file photo of a camera.

 

According to the minister, opportunities must be created with a belief that effective regulatory interventions are guaranteed ways of attaining such.

He said the government would not waver and asked those who still have misgivings about the amendment to the 6th Edition of the Code to meet with the regulator and present their views.

Read the full speech of the minister below:

REMARKS BY THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, AT THE UNVEILING OF THE REVIEWED BROADCASTING CODE IN LAGOS ON TUESDAY AUG. 4TH 2020

PROTOCOL

Let me formally welcome all of us to this unveiling of the new amendment to the 6th Edition of the Broadcasting Code.

This event couldn’t have come at a more expedient time after the various stakeholders in the industry have ventilated their views on this all-important document.

This is an amendment to an existing 6th edition of the Code, which was launched in Kano in July 2019.

Before the launch of the Code in Kano, there were wide stakeholder meetings and discussions on virtually all the provisions of the 5th edition, which was now reviewed as the 6th edition.

The amendments were necessitated by a Presidential directive, in the wake of the 2019 general elections, for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as well as the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after the elections.

Following the inquiry, Mr President approved many recommendations that will reposition the NBC to perform its regulatory role better. Key among the recommendations is the need to amend the provisions in the Code and Act.

The amendments are mostly in the areas of political broadcasting, local content, coverage of emergencies, advertising, and anti-competitive behaviour.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are many desirable provisions in the new Broadcasting Code:

– The provisions on Exclusivity and Monopoly: This Antitrust provision will boost local content and local industry due to laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves.

It will encourage Open Access to premium content. I must explain that this provision is not new to Nigeria Broadcasting. Exclusivity was disallowed at a certain time in the history of our broadcasting.

I recall Multichoice sub-licensing EPL matches to other local operators in Nigeria. I recall HITV engaging several local operators on sub-licensing the EPL when they got the rights.

– Sub-licensing and Rights sharing creates opportunities for local operators to also gain traction and raise revenue for their services.

– The law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts will definitely promote sustainability for the station owners and producers of content.

– The law on registration of Web Broadcasting grants the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm us as a nation. Such harms could be in the area of security, protection for minors, protection of human dignity, economic fraud, privacy etc.

– The provisions on responsibility of broadcast stations to devote airtime to national emergencies: This provision obviously mandates terrestrial and Pay TV channels to make their services available to Nigerians at times of national emergencies – like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – for their education and enlightenment.

– The provision raising the fine for hate speech from 500,000 Naira to 5 million Naira.

Permit me to say that section 2h of the NBC Act specifically empowers the Commission to establish and disseminate a National Broadcasting Code and set standards with regard to the content and quality of materials for broadcast.

From the above, it is clear that it is a regulatory function to establish the Code. It is democratic when the regulator engages stakeholders to get their views.

This could be done in several ways, including questionnaires, conferences, face-to-face discussions, and focused group discussions.

Once the regulator has factored all the views, he takes a decision to codify provisions that best address the needs of the country. This is what NBC has done in this case.

What I have observed in the reactions to the last amendment are interests who believe that their singular business interest is superior to the national interest. Therefore, they have resorted to all kinds of blackmail, using hack writers.

Ladies and gentlemen, we remain unperturbed, because we are acting in the national interest. The Broadcasting Code is not a static document. As we often say, broadcasting is dynamic. Therefore, even the 6th Edition of the Code shall be reviewed at the appropriate time.

But, as it currently stands, the 6th edition and the amendments, which we are unveiling today, remain the regulations for broadcasting in Nigeria.

Our intention remains the good of the country. We need to catalyse the growth of the local industry. We need to create jobs for our teeming creative youths.

The opportunities must be created and we believe that effective regulatory interventions are a sure way of attaining this. That’s why we will not waver.

For those who still have misgivings about the amendment to the 6th Edition of the Code, we expect you to meet with the regulator and present your views.

As I said, there are opportunities for constant review of the Code, but please note that this latest amendment is signed, sealed and delivered, and we are committed to making it work for the good of the country.

I thank you all for your kind attention.

IBAN Asks NBC To Suspend New Broadcasting Code

Ekiti Broadcasting Service To Resume Operations After NBC Shutdown
File: The NBC is Nigeria’s broadcast regulator

 

The Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (IBAN) has asked the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to suspend the implementation of the amended 6th broadcasting code.

IBAN’s Secretary, Mr Guy Murray-Bruce said this in a statement on Thursday where he explained that the amendment should be subjected to a new round of wide stakeholder consultation to avoid a legal crisis.

“We at The Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (IBAN) wish to make a few observations which will touch on issues of stakeholder consultations, the committee’s terms of reference vis a vis its outcome and the practicality of the amendments as enunciated,” he said in the statement.

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He explained that the committee in charge of the amendment did not circulate a draft of its work to stakeholder groups before its ratification.

Mr Murray-Bruce explained that IBAN wish to make a few observations which includes but not limited to the need for IBAN to have a seat on the committee.

The group also has reservations as to the practicality of implementing the amendments in their present form and wants the NBC to hold off on the implementation of the amendments at this time.

“We have observed what we believe could be areas of possible conflict with other government agencies due to overlapping mandates,” the statement added.

“We most humbly submit that the NBC hold off on the implementation of the amendments at this time.”

The NBC is Nigeria’s broadcast regulator and is made up of a board of commissioners appointed by the country’s president. Also, the Director General of the commission is a member of the board.

VIDEO: Watch the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, say that his ministry will create two million jobs in three years below:

President Buhari Suspends NBC DG, Modibbo Kawu

Kawu was appointed as NBC DG in 2016 Photo: @Kawu.Modibbo/Facebook

 

The Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr Modibbo Kawu, has been suspended on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari.

This development comes months after the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) arraigned the NBC DG on corruption charges.

Sources at the NBC confirmed the news to Channels TV, revealing that the most senior director in the commission has been directed to take over from the suspended DG.

“As you are aware, he is being prosecuted by the ICPC for alleged corruption,” one of the sources said.

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The ICPC had arraigned Mr Kawu in May 2019 over his alleged complicity in the misapplication of the N2.5 billion seed grant for Digital Switch-Over (DSO) programme of the Federal Government.

Kawu, alongside the Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Mr Lucky Omoluwa and the Chief Operating Officer of the same company, Mr Dipo Onifade, were docked before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The anti-corruption agency, filed 12 charges against them, bordering on abuse of office, money laundering and misleading a public officer with the intent to defraud the federal government, in contravention of Section 26 (1) (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 19 of the same law.

President Buhari had appointed Mr Kawu, a journalist with decades of experience as the NBC DG on May 25, 2016.

FG To Regulate Internet Broadcast Content

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says the Federal Government will mandate the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to come up with new regulations for internet and mainstream broadcast organizations.

Mr Lai Mohammed disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday after he received reports from the committee inaugurated last month to study and make recommendations on the government’s proposals to reform the NBC.

The minister also urged the NBC to review its fines from N500,000 to N5,000,000 for breaches relating to hate speeches.

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Furthermore, he recommended the suspension of broadcast license for organisations that willfully repeat infractions on three occasions.

The minister had on Monday stated that the recent move by the Federal Government to regulate the social media space from fake news and hate speech is not aimed at gagging the media.