The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital territory on Friday fined the Nigerian government N250,000 for deliberate delay in suit seeking to stop the country’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from clampdown on press freedom in the country.
A human rights lawyer, Samuel Ihensekhien, Jr, on behalf of the President, One Love Foundation, Patrick Eholor, had filed suit No: ECW/CCJ/APP/43/21 before the regional court seeking an orders of the court restraining Nigerian government against the implementation of Sections 5, 4, 3, 1 of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) code on all broadcasting stations.
The sections relate to reportage and giving details of security issues and persons affected by insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria.
But the Foundation, through its counsel, argued that the actions offend all relevant laws and the African Charter on Media and Broadcasting Rights and Freedom of Press.
In the suit which commenced since 2021 sought among others an order of the court directing Nigeria President, Muhammadu Buhari and the National Broadcasting Commission, a government agency, to desist from enforcing Section 5, 4, 3, 1 of the NBC code on all broadcasting stations.
However, when the matter came up for hearing on Friday, the Counsel to the Nigeria Government asked the court for an adjournment to enable the government to file its defence.
Counsel to the Plaintiff, Samuel Ihensekhien opposed it and informed the court that the government had been served all court processes in the case since 2021 but chose not to respond within the time allowed by the law.
Ihensekhien told SaharaReporters in a short statement that “after it was proved to the satisfaction of court, that the Office of Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice of Nigeria was served all court processes on this matter since 2021 without the government filing a defence.
“We asked the court for costs and the court in its wisdom awarded N250,000 for punitive fines against the AGF and Federal Republic of Nigeria who are the 1st and 2nd Defendants respectively in the suit.”
The court consequently adjourned the suit to May 30, 2023 for further hearing.