DESPITE VIDEO EVIDENCE, LAI MOHAMMED DENIES ANNOUNCING INCREMENT IN HATE SPEECH FINE TO N5 MILLION
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has denied announcing an increment in fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5m despite video evidence.
The Minister had on August 5, 2020, announced the decision of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to increase hate speech fine to N5m.
The reaction of the minister was in response to a suit filed before a Federal High Court in Lagos by Human rights Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, challenging the imposition of N5m fine on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM Lagos and the threat by the NBC to punish other broadcast stations in the country over alleged hate speech.
Recall Eons Intelligence reported that the NBC fined the radio station the sum of N5m for interviewing Dr Obadiah Mailafia, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who alleged during the radio show on Monday, August 9, 2020, that a Governor from the North was a commander and sponsor of Boko Haram.
Also, the NBC on October 26 fined three broadcast stations over their coverage of the #ENDSARS protests across the Nation.
The stations fined include; Arise TV, African Independent Television (AIT) and Channels Television between N2million and N3million.
In a counter-affidavit by a litigation Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Sunday Ojobo, the minister claimed that he never announced an increment in the fine.
The affidavit further read, “Paragraph 19 is denied. The 2nd defendant (Mohammed) did not announce an increment in any fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5,000,000 or any other because there is a governmental body or institution mandated to regulate and enforce the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.”
The minister further stated that the constitution allows for human rights to be suspended for the sake of national interest.
He said, “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for derogation from fundamental rights in the interest of public safety, public order and for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.”
Mohammed added that the NBC Act gives the commission the power to sanction stations that contravene its code.
The minister also stated that Effiong was not directly affected by the NBC sanctions and therefore lacked the legal right to challenge NBC’s Code.
He added, “The 1st respondent (NBC) has powers in determining and applying sanctions including revocation of licences of defaulting stations which do not operate in accordance with the broadcast code and in the public interest.
“A public affairs commentator, anchor of programmes and the media are not to use their platform to incite public violence or disorder or in a manner detrimental to the national interest.
“It is within the purview of the Federal Government of Nigeria to maintain public safety, public order in the interest of all citizens of Nigeria to avoid breakdown of law and order.”