A filmmaker, Charles Uwagbai, has dragged the National Broadcasting Commission before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court seeking an order setting aside the recently amended Nigeria broadcasting code.
Mr Uwagbai, the proprietor of Creative Studios, an independent local content producer, also sought a declaration that the power vested on the NBC is exercisable only by a meeting of a quorum of its stipulated members.
The NBC recently released a controversial Amendment to the 6th Edition of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code which, amongst other things, prohibited exclusivity of sporting rights and raised the fine for hate speech to N5 million. Earlier this month, the information minister, Lai Mohammed, justified the increase in the fine.
In his statement of claim, Mr Uwagbai pointed to a newspaper advertisement signed by “management”, stating that the recommendations of a Committee on the Reform of the National Broadcasting Commission had the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The filmmaker argued that any reform by the NBC must be by amendments to the statute that created it and not by “approval of the president.” He also contended that there is no organ known as ‘Board’ or ‘Management’ in the NBC.
Mr Uwagbai said immediately after the newspaper advertisement, there were allegations that the “Board” and “Management” were persons outside the Commission, who had used their political connection to influence the NBC.
He further noted that there had been disagreements between Armstrong Idachaba, the NBC acting director general and Ikra Bilbis, the chairman of the board, over the amendments.
Last June, Mr Idachaba disowned an earlier call for position papers made by Mr Bilbis, forcing the latter to address a press conference saying none of the over 50 position papers he received for the amendments was used.
Following the controversies surrounding the amendments, Mr Uwagbai sought an order directing the NBC to disclose and make public the full details and records of its meetings where the “Addendum to the 6th Edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code” was authorised.
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