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MRA slams NBC with lawsuit over social media platforms regulation

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Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has challenged in court bthe authority of the broadcast regulatory body — the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) — to regulate and licence social media platforms in Nigeria.

In a suit filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja,the organization is asking the court to declare that since the NBC has no regulatory authority over social media platforms, it lacks the power to impose broadcast licences on social media platforms.

MRA is being represented by a team of 14 lawyers, led by Abuja-based constitutional lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, according to a statement by its Communications Officer, Idowu Adewale, given to Persecondnews.

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

The rights group pointed out that the social media platforms are not broadcasting stations under the NBC Act or any other law or subsidiary legislation in existence in Nigeria.

It named the Attorney-General of the Federation and NBC as respondents, in the suit brought by Originating Summons pursuant to Order 2 Rules 1 to 5 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009, as preserved by Section 315 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended; Sections 39 and 46 of the Constitution; and Article 9 of the African Charter.

MRA wants the court to declare that the NBC’s move to regulate and license social media platforms, constitutes a violation of its right to freedom of expression under Section 39 of the Constitution; Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9), Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

It also wants the court that it is a violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), as well as a breach of Nigeria’s treaty obligations by virtue of it being a signatory to the international legal instruments.

The group is also seeking a declaration that the NBC’s directive to broadcasting stations to de-install their Twitter handles and not use Twitter as a source of information gathering for their news and programmes, is “ultra vires and violates its fundamental rights to seek and receive information, and to express and disseminate opinions under the freedom of expression guarantees contained in section 39 of the Constitution, Article 9 of the African Charter, Article 19 of the ICCPR and Article 19 of the UDHR.”

“It is also a violation of Nigeria’s treaty obligations by virtue of the country being a signatory to the international instruments, as the NBC’s regulatory authority does not extend to directing licensed broadcasting stations on where they should source their news and information, while the commission has no power to instruct broadcasting stations to deinstall their Twitter handles under the NBC Act or any other law or subsidiary legislation in Nigeria,” the statement said.

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