A human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, has dragged Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; the Federal Government, and the National Broadcasting Commission for hiking the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5m.
In his motioned filed at the Federal High Court, Igbosere, Lagos today, Effiong challenged the decision to fine Nigeria Info 99.3 FM N5m over a program where former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, accused a northern governor of involvement with terrorist sect, Boko Haram.
He also faulted the threat by NBC to punish other broadcast stations in the country over alleged hate speech.
The NBC had threatened that any TV or radio station that permits hate speech on its platform would be fined N5m or shut down.
Its board had also alleged that Lai Mohammed hijacked the responsibility of the NBC and unilaterally hiked the fine for hate speech without consultation.
Effiong argued that the decisions infringed on his freedom of expression and that of broadcast stations, broadcasters and other Nigerian citizens who also appear as guests on radio and television stations to express critical views about the government and public officeholders.
He said, “Nigeria has passed the era of colonialism and military dictatorship”. He said that Lai Mohammed, NBC and the Federal Government were “seeking to subvert Nigeria’s constitutional democracy with the attendant liberties and foist a civilian dictatorship on the country.”
He prayed the court to make “a declaration that broadcast stations in Nigeria, broadcasters, guests and callers during radio and television programmes are entitled to a fair trial before a court of competent jurisdiction as guaranteed by Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9 L.F.N. 2004 before a sentence of fine or other penalties can be imposed on them over comments, views or opinions expressed on radio and television”.