The Federal High Court in Lagos has stopped the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the National Broadcasting Commission from revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations in the country, and shutting down the stations for allegedly failing to renew their licenses.
Justice Akintayo Aluko (Court 8) on Monday, granted an order of interim injunction following the hearing of an argument on motion exparte by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), and the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE).
SERAP and the NGE are also seeking “a declaration that section 10(a) of the National Broadcasting Act used by the NBC to unilaterally revoke the licenses of the broadcast stations and shutdown the stations is a violation of the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed right to fair hearing.”
The suit, read in part, “The provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties on freedom of expression indicate that this right can be exercised through any medium.”
“Effectively, these provisions recognize that every individual has the right to an equal opportunity to receive, seek and impart information through any communication medium without discrimination.”
“The use of the NBC Act and Code in this case would inadmissibly open the door to arbitrariness and would fundamentally restrict the freedom of expression that is an integral part of the public order protecting the Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.”
“The media plays an essential role as a vehicle or instrument for the exercise of freedom of expression and information – in its individual and collective aspects – in a democratic society.”
“Indeed, the media has the task of distributing all varieties of information and opinion on matters of general interest.”
“The public has a right to receive and assess this information and opinion independently. Therefore, the existence of a free, independent, vigorous, pluralistic, and diverse media is essential for the proper functioning of a democratic society.”
“According to the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ‘licensing processes shall seek to promote diversity in broadcasting. Any registration system for the media shall not impose substantive restrictions on the right to freedom of expression.’”
“Revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and shutting down their operations because they have not renewed their licenses would both seriously undermine the rights of millions of Nigerians to express their thoughts, and their right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, in any medium they choose.”
“Freedom of expression includes the public’s right to receive, and the right of those who express themselves through a medium of communication, to impart the greatest possible diversity of information and ideas.”
“The right to freedom of expression is based on the right to establish or use a media outlet to exercise freedom of expression and on society’s right to have access to a free, independent, and pluralistic media that allows for the most and most diverse information.”
“The media, including the affected 53 broadcast stations, serve to distribute Nigerians’ thoughts and information while at the same time allowing them access to the ideas, information, opinions, and cultural expressions of other individuals.”
“The exercise of the right to freedom of expression through the media is a guarantee that is fundamental for advancing the collective deliberative process on public and democratic issues.”
“Therefore, the strengthening of the guarantee of freedom of expression is a precondition for the exercise of other human rights, as well as a precondition to the right to participation to be informed and reasoned.”
“The media including the affected 53 broadcast stations play an essential role, as they allow millions of Nigerians to access both the relevant information and a variety of perspectives that are necessary for reaching reasonable and informed conclusions on matters of public interest.”
“The Plaintiffs recognise the mandates of NBC to regulate broadcasting. However, the exercise of such mandates including renewals or revocation of licenses must follow the thresholds and guidelines set by the right to freedom of expression.”
“The free circulation of ideas and news is not possible except in the context of a plurality of sources of information and media outlets. The lack of plurality in sources of information is a serious obstacle for the functioning of democracy.”
“The NBC Act and Broadcasting Code cannot and should not be used in a manner that is inconsistent and incompatible with plurality of voices, diversity of voices, non-discrimination, and just demands of a democratic society, as well as the public interest.”
“Broadcasting is a means of exercising freedom of expression. Any restrictions on freedom of expression must meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”
“The regulation of broadcasting must aspire to promote and expand the scope of the right to freedom of expression, not restrict it.”
NAUTH Resident Doctors Suspend Strike
Resident doctors under the aegis of the Association of Resident Doctors, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, have suspended its five-day warning strike.
The group said it considered the plight of stranded patients who are in need of critical and emergency care before arriving at the decision to suspend the strike after an emergency meeting on Friday.
The doctors had embarked on a five-day warning strike on Wednesday to express displeasure over the assault meted out on one of its members by relatives of a deceased patient, whom the doctor was helping to resuscitate.
According to a statement signed by its President, Dr Ndukwe Chinwe, and General Secretary, Dr Egbue Obiora, on Saturday, the body said it unanimously resolved to suspend the strike, resume emergency services by 8 am on Saturday and routine clinic services/activities by Monday.
The doctors said it observed that the hospital’s management has shown commitment by ensuring the arrest of the culprits and has promised to follow the matter to a logical conclusion.
They also noted the commitment of the hospital towards fulfilling all the other demands outlined by the doctors.
The statement read, “Recall that on January 25, doctors under the aegis of Association of Resident Doctors Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi embarked on a five-day warning strike to express displeasure over the assault meted out on one of our members by relatives of a deceased patient, whom the doctor was helping to resuscitate.
“In an emergency general meeting held on Friday, January 27, 2023, the members observed that the hospital management has shown commitment by ensuring the arrest of the culprits and have promised to follow the matter to a logical conclusion.
“The management has begun the enforcement of compliance to visiting hours in the wards and has put measures to ensure that patient relatives are not found inside the wards at odd hours. A memo has been issued to that effect.
“The Hospital Management has also reiterated their commitment to fulfil all the other demands outlined by ARD.
“Congress observed the lamentations of patients who could not assess healthcare during the period of the industrial action since resident doctors make up the bulk of the doctors in the teaching hospital.
“The body unanimously agreed that the hospital management has shown a quick response to their demands which led to a total shutdown of services offered by Resident Doctors in NAUTH.
“The congress unanimously resolved to suspend the strike, resume emergency services by 8 am on Saturday and routine clinic services/activities by Monday 8 am.
“Congress also resolved that the exco should continue to engage the hospital management until other demands are met. That any other form of assault on any doctor will be met with stringent measures.
“That a rapid response team be instituted to quickly tackle this menace on the spot in the event of any re-occurrence.”
The group, therefore, commended the management of NAUTH for its swift response towards putting measures to forestall a future repeat of this condemnable act and ensuring that the majority of our demands received the needed attention.
NIPOST Workers To Begin Strike On Monday
Workers of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) staff are threatening to embark on industrial action from Monday, January 30th over alleged abandonment by the Federal Government.
The protesting staff urged the Federal Government to urgently intervene before the industrial action commences.
The General Secretary of the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government-Owned Companies, Ayo Olorunfemi, led the protest on Friday.
According to Olorunfemi, several staff members of the service have not been receiving any form of capital funding from Federal Government in the last 15 years.
He also asked the government to beam its searchlight on the finances of the agency.
“All we are saying is this: Reform must be open; [it] must be clear. Our fear must be addressed and the reform must be in the overall interest of Nigeria. Any reform that is targeting some individuals will not be accepted.
“Therefore, this is another process. We have been going on strike and they have been talking to us to suspend them,” he said.
But this time around, according to Olorunfemi, the industrial action is targeted solely at actualising a much-needed reform process.
“We expect a suspension of the process. Let the next government come and follow due process in ensuring that we have a sustainable reform procedure.
“We’re expecting that a percentage, even if it is not more than two percent of that fund, be released to NIPOST for infrastructure and the welfare of staff.
“Immediately the so-called Finance Bill was passed into law, the money was packed away. One naira has not been given to NIPOST and NIPOST is not on any capital budget of the Federal Government,” he said.
Lagos Estate Residents Lament Ordeal With Popular Gospel Singer, Testimony Jaga
Residents of Alagbado Estate Road in Lagos state have raised alarm over threats to their lives by a popular Nigerian gospel singer, Mr. Salau Olayiwola, known by the stage name, Testimony Jaga alleging that he has been unleashing terror on them.
One of the victims identified as Mrs. Agbede Abimbola alleged that the singer poured urine and water on her after she accused him of obstructing vehicular movement in the estate.
The victim, Mrs. Abimbola, told Vanguard that her trouble with him started after she invited her friend to deliver frozen foods to her in preparation for her son’s 15th birthday, last week.
According to her, when I confronted him over the way the whole streets are blocked during his church sessions, he unleashed his church boys on me and I was beaten and bathed in urine.
Speaking further, Mrs. Abimbola said she was still on the ground after being beaten when water was poured on her and also urine which splashed on some of the neighbors who tried to help her get up. “Jaga walked up to me and said it was women like me that would molest me. Immediately he said that with little strength left in me, I was about holding his clothes when he moved back and my hand grabbed his necklace. He stepped back further while my hand was at the chain and the chain cut. Immediately, his members took the chain from me.
“Jaga told his members not to let me go until I provide the chain. They also descended on my friend Agnes and held her on the ground. After the confrontation, we reported he case to the police.
Recounting the incident, Mrs. Abimbola’s friend, who gave her name as Agnes John narrated that when she entered the street, the road was blocked. “I was honking so that I could drive in; no one was ready to move. So, someone walked up to me and said that they were holding a programme and I should park my car.
“I parked, locked my car and walked to my friend’s house to inform her that I could not drive in because a programme was being held on the road and she would need to go and get the frozen foods from the car herself. She told me it must be Jaga because he holds his street gospel movement every Tuesday. So, I went along with her to the car to pack the frozen foods. It was while we were going that we met Jaga on the road and because I don’t know him, my friend pointed at him, showing me that it was him.
“Immediately, I called his attention. I thought he would walk out of the crowd to answer me but he said I should come, which I did. I told him whenever he is holding his programme he should create a space for others because we all are road users and it won’t be nice for him to disturb others with his programme. While I was leaving, I heard noise and when I turned back, I saw my friend on the ground with a crowd descending on her. I had to call people nearby to join them in the commotion and in the process of explaining to them what happened, the police arrived with their patrol vehicle and took me and my friend away for interrogation, leaving Jaga behind.
When contacted, the singer denied the story stating that he had nothing more to say as the case is with the police.
Lagos State police spokesman, Benjamin Hundeyin told Vanguard when called on phone: : “I am not aware of the incident but I will contact Alagbado DPO and get back to you.”