The Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday, 29th August, 2022, has restrained the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, from  revocation of the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and consequently shutting down the stations across the country for allegedly failing to renew their licenses.

Justice Akintayo Aluko of Court 8, of the Federal High Court, gave an interim order after hearing the arguments on motion by the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project, SERAP, and Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE.

NGE and SERAP had last week filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari and NBC, asking the court for a declaration that Section 10(a) of the Third Schedule to the NBC Act used by NBC to threaten to revoke the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and to shut down the stations was unconstitutional and unlawful, as it violates freedom of expression.

In the suit, the two groups had asked the court for “an order of interim injunction restraining President, Muhammadu Buhari, and NBC, from revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations in the country and shutting down their operations, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed contemporaneously in this suit”.

In a statement signed by the General Secretary of NGE, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, and the deputy director of SERAP, Kola Oluwadare, the two groups said that Hon. Justice Akintayo Aluko (Court 8) granted an order of interim injunction, following the hearing of an argument on ‘Motion Exparte’ by NGE and SERAP.

The suit has been adjourned to September 8, 2022, for the hearing of the Motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction.

It followed the decision by the NBC to revoke the licenses of the 53 broadcast stations and shut down their operations within 24 hours over alleged N2.6 billion debts on Friday, 19th August, 2022.

However, a statement signed by the NBC’s Director-General, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, said the commission would be reneging on its initial declaration and gave the stations more time to clear their outstanding debt.

Story: Hilda Katu