Court halts sale of 9mobile

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ruled that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) lacks power to impose fines on broadcast stations.

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The court, therefore, placed perpetual injunction against NBC on imposition of fines on broadcast stations even as it asserted that such powers as want to be exercised by the NBC dispirits the Nigerian Constitution.

The court then voided the N500, 000 fine the NBC imposed on 45 broadcast stations on March 1, 2019 declaration the action as illegal and unconstitutional.

The court ruling was on originating motions marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1386/2021, instituted by the Incorporated Trustees of Media Rights Agenda (MRA) against the NBC.


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

Accordingly, the court held that the NBC Code, which gives the commission the power to impose sanction, was in conflict with Section 6 of the Constitution that vested judicial power in the court of law.

The court also held that the NBC, not being a security agency such as the Nigeria Police Force, had no power to conduct criminal investigation that would lead to criminal trial and imposition of sanctions.


According to the court, allowing the NBC to continue to impose sanctions on broadcast stations would amount to a deliberate breach of the doctrine of separation of powers.

“This will go against the doctrine of separation of powers….The action of the respondent qualifies as excessiveness,” as it had ascribed to itself the judicial and executive powers.

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has described the court ruling as a landmark judgment in defense peoples’ rights.


In its suit, the MRA had argued that “the unilateral action the NBC took against the 45 media outfits in 2019, was not only against the rules of natural justice but also in violation of rights of the broadcast station to fair hearing as enshrined under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and Articles 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap AQ) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”

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