A movie producer and director, Charles Uwagbai, has dragged the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) before a Federal High Court in Lagos over the 6th National Broadcasting Code.
In a suit filed by his lawyer, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN), Uwagbai is asking the court to stop the implementation of the new code and set aside the amendment to the broadcast regulatory framework.
Uwagbai, who is famous for producing and directing movies such as Esohe, Breathless and Twisted Twins, wants the court to nullify the amendment to the code on the grounds that the NBC Act can only be amended by a legislation and not by a mere recommendation or public presentation. He contended that the NBC went beyond its responsibilities.
Citing Section 2(1)(h) of the NBC Act, Cap N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, Uwagbai argued that the power vested on the NBC to amend a code states that it must have a meeting of a quorum of its members in Section 3 of the Act, and Rules 1, 4, 7, 8 and 11 of the First Schedule to the Act.
Uwagbai asked the court to order the NBC to publish a list of members in attendance as well as proceedings of its meetings in which the amendment was approved.
On 4 August in Lagos, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, publicly presented the code despite a flood of stakeholder protests about the fidelity of the document.
The code was further hit by credibility deficit crisis when last week Thursday, Ikra Aliyu Bilbis, Chairman of the NBC Board, described the Code as illegal. He told journalists at a conference in Abuja that the code had been reviewed and publicly presented in 2019 and accused Mohammed of unilaterally altering the code.
Bilbis added that the minister breached due process by keeping the NBC Board in the dark about the amendment after the code had been presented last year. He noted that due process of the code review, which holds every four years, entails the participation of former directors-general, retired directors and staff of the Commission as well as broadcasting organisations and media scholars.