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Media Rights group grags NBC to court over failure to disclose amount paid by stations for licence renewal

Media Rights Agenda on Monday disclosed that it has dragged National Broadcasting Commission to court over its failure to disclose the total amount paid by stations to renew their licences in Nigeria.

Recall that a Federal High Court in Lagos State has issued an order stopping President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and the National Broadcasting Commission from shutting down 53 broadcast stations in the country.

A civic group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), confirmed the ruling via its official Twitter handle, claiming that the order was given by the court in a suit filed by the group and the Nigerian Guild of Editors.

Meanwhile, MRA in a statement released by Idowu Adewale, the group’s communications officer, which was obtained by SaharaReporters on Monday, is urging the court to declare NBC’s failure to provide the information on the Status of Payment of License Fees by Broadcasting Stations as an infringement to the provisions of Freedom of Information of Act.

The statement reads in part, “MRA is asking the Court to declare NBC’s failure to provide it with the information it requested a breach of its right of access to information as well as a flagrant violation of the FOI Act and to order the Commission to pay it N1 million as exemplary and aggravated damages for unlawfully denying it the information.

“The NBC and the Attorney-General of the Federation are named as Respondents in the suit filed on behalf of MRA by freedom of expression lawyer, Mr. Alimi Adamu, along with Ms Obioma Okonkwo, Mr. Monday Arunsi and Ms Opeyemi Yakubu.

“In a motion ex-parte brought pursuant to Order 34, Rules 1, 3(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 and Sections 1(3) and 20 of the FOI Act, MRA is seeking leave of the court to apply for a review of the NBC’s action pursuant to the FOI Act and to seek the following reliefs:

“A declaration that the NBC’s denial of access to MRA of the information it requested by a letter dated August 22, 2022, constitutes a violation of the organization’s rights of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 4 of the FOI Act;

“A declaration that the NBC’s failure and/or refusal to give MRA a written notice that access to all or part of the information it requested would not be granted with reasons for the denial and the section of the FOI Act upon which the Commission relied to deny the organization access to the information requested amounts to a flagrant violation of Section 4 (b) and 7 (1) of the FOI Act.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit. Sahara Reporters

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