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Election coverage: Court told to stop Buhari, others from shutting down broadcast stations

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for using the NBC Act and broadcasting code to sanction and threaten to revoke the licences of broadcast stations in Nigeria and shut them down over their coverage of this year’s general elections.

Joined in the suit as Defendant is the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

The NBC had last week purportedly sanctioned 25 broadcast stations and gave ‘final warnings’ to 16 others for reportedly violating provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code during the Feb. 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/469/2023 filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos, last Friday, SERAP is asking the court to establish “whether the broadcasting code used by the NBC to sanction some broadcast stations and threaten to shut down others isn’t in inconsistent and incompatible with freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom.”

The organization is seeking “an order of interim injunction restraining President Buhari, the NBC and Mohammed from threatening and sanctioning broadcast stations in Nigeria simply for carrying out their constitutional duties, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed contemporaneously in this suit.”

The suit was filed on behalf of the organization by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Ms Valentina Adegoke and Ms Adelanke Aremo.

However, a date for the hearing of the suit is yet to be fixed.