Former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has commended Media Rights Agenda (MRA) for its courage in challenging the “draconian practice” by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and testing Nigeria’s laws following the January 17, 2024 judgment by a Federal High Court in Abuja which voided the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code authorizing the NBC to impose fines on broadcast stations for alleged breaches of the Code.
Commenting on the judgment by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia in MRA’s suit against the NBC over the Commission’s imposition of fines of N5 million each on a television station and three pay TV platforms in 2022 for allegedly undermining Nigeria’s national security by broadcasting documentaries on banditry in Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar said he had read reports about the judgment and was “happy to announce my support for the judgement of the court.”
In her judgment, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia held that the NBC not being a court of law, acted above its powers by imposing such fines on the station and media platforms and that administrative and regulatory bodies could not exercise judicial powers.
In a press statement released by his media office on January 18, Alhaji Abubakar said: “While I commend the court for this bold decision, it is adequate that we all recognize the courage of the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) for having tested our laws on this draconian practice by the regulatory body.”
He stressed that he was “even happier that the said judgement will further boost the ethos of democratic norms in our body politics.”
Alhaji Abubakar said the verdict will enhance the constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech as well as ensure that the media in Nigeria is not gagged and that citizens can enjoy their rights to freedom of expression.