(Updated) Court Summons NBC, Others over Suspension of Daar Communications’ Licence

0

*Orders parties to maintain status quo ante bellum as at May 30

By Alex Enumah in Abuja

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday ordered the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to appear before him over the suspension of broadcast licence of Daar Communications Plc., owners of Africa Independent Television, Raypower and Faaji fm.

Also to appear alongside the NBC on June 13, 2019, include the Attorney General of the Federation and Ministry of Information.

The order was sequel to an exparte application made by Daar Communications PLC seeking the setting aside of the action of the electronic broadcast regulator.

The body had on June 6, 2019 announced the suspension of the licence of Daar Communications Plc., owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Ray Power until further notice.

Director-General of NBC, Modibbo Kawu, who announced the shutdown said the action was as a result of Daar Communications’ continued breach of broadcasting code.

Meanwhile, the court has ordered parties in the suit to maintain status quo ante bellum as at 30th May, 2019, pending the hearing and determination of Daar Communications PLC’s suit challenging the closure of its broadcast stations.

Justice Ekwo in his ruling on the exparte application filed and argued by Benson Igbanoi of Chief Mike Ozekhome’s chamber, granted the alternative prayer of the applicant, while he held that prayers one and two cannot be granted without first hearing from other parties.

“I have noted the eight grounds upon which the exparte application was hinged upon, application of this nature must be considered judicially and judiciously, that, I have done.

” I hereby ordered that parties shall maintain status quo ante bellum as at May 30, 2019 pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed in this case”, Justice Inyang stated and ordered the defendants to appear before the court on June 13, 2019 to show cause why they should not be stopped from interfering with the operations of Daar Communication PLC.

The plaintiff, represented by its founder, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, in a exparte motion prayed the court to order the maintenance of status quo ante bellum as at 30th May, this year, pending the hearing and determination of its suit challenging the closure of its broadcast stations.

The company also prayed the court to restrain the defendants from blocking and/or interfering with the air waves of Daar Communication Plc in any way and manner howsoever, in its broadcast and airing of news, views, documentaries, or any other legitimate broadcast material that is usually associated with television, radio or social media broadcast pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed along with the exparte application.

The plaintiff also prayed the court to restrain the defendants from invading or closing down the premises of Daar Communication, its operations or broadcast services, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed along with this application.

Alternatively, the plaintiff prayed for an order for maintenance of status quo ante bellum, as at May 30, 2019, pending the hearing and final determination of the Motion on Notice filed along with the exparte application.

Other grounds include that, “The Plaintiff/Applicant has in the best tenets and tradition of broadcast and in compliance with section 22 of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as altered, carried out its duties legally, legitimately, morally and nationalistically, in informing, educating and entertaining Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora on sundry matters, which activities have energized and contributed to national development and also nurtured, widened, deepened and strengthened democracy, rule of law, human rights and anti-corruption in Nigeria.

“Since the emergence of the present government, the Plaintiff /Applicant has been under its close surveillance and undue monitoring of its operations by the present government which wrongly believes that the Plaintiff/Applicant had been too supportive of the immediate past government.

“That sometimes on 16th April, 2019, agents of the Federal Government represented by the 1st Defendant, in a Gestapo- like- manner, attacked and pulled down the two buildings and gates leading to the Plaintiff/Applicant’s operational Headquarters which damaged and caused destruction running into hundreds of millions of naira.

” The Defendants and their agents have been writing series of letters with which they harassed and intimidated the Plaintiff over the contents of their broadcast, particularly of late, concerning its social media segment of its morning flagship broadcast show called KAAKAKI (the African Voice).

“Credible information just reaching the Plaintiff has it that the Defendants have concluded plans to invade and shut down the premises of the Plaintiff and/or part thereof, in the next few days.

“Shutting down the broadcast services of the Plaintiff will deny majority of Nigerians access to information which is constitutionally guaranteed and its teaming workers of their means of livelihood.

“That it is extremely urgent to hear and grant these prayers pending the hearing of the motion on notice, so as prevent irreparable damage which cannot be compensated for on monetary terms from being inflicted on the Plaintiff/Applicant”.

The media outfit motion was supported by a 7 paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Kelly Elisha.

The plaintiff, Daar Communication Plc is the first privately owned Independent Broadcasting Organisation in Nigeria, having been licensed to broadcast on television and radio since 1996 and currently, operating the African Independent Television (AIT), Ray Power 100.5 FM, Faji FM and Darsat stations.