The National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, has filed an appeal against the ruling of the Federal High Court which dismissed the commission’s motion to set aside a judgment restraining it from imposing fines on radio and television stations.

NBC’s lead counsel, MR. Babajide Koku, SAN, filed a four-ground notice of appeal complaining about the decision of the lower court while asking the appellate court to set aside the earlier judgment.

Following the NBC’s imposition of N500,000 fine each on 45 broadcast stations for alleged contraventions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code in 2019, an Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Noah Ajare, filed a suit on behalf of Media Rights Agenda. He challenged the powers of the NBC to fine broadcasters.

Giving his ruling, Justice James Omotosho, held that only courts of law are empowered to impose sanctions for criminal offences.

Justice Omotosho noted that “The NBC was neither a court nor a judicial tribunal to make pronouncements on the guilt of broadcast stations notwithstanding the NBC Code, thereby violating the constitution.”

The NBC argued in its first ground of appeal, that Justice Omotosho erred in law when he refused to set aside a judgment, which it alleged, was demonstrated before him to have been deceitfully obtained on the ground that the commission was indolent and ought to have raised the objection in the substantive suit timeously.

It said the law confers on a court the inherent power to review and set aside its earlier judgement on grounds of fraud and deceit if those grounds are subsequently brought to its knowledge and demonstrated to exist.

The second ground of appeal is that the judge erred in law when he held that he would not set aside his earlier judgment because “res judicata” was not a ground for setting aside a default judgment

The third ground for appeal is that the judge erred in law when he held that “in the final analysis, the application by the respondent/applicant has no substance for being an afterthought and not a belated attempt at challenging the jurisdiction of the court.”

In the NBC’s fourth ground of appeal, the commission said the judge erred in law when he found that “A party who is victim of a default judgment fraudulently obtained would not be entitled to the indulgence of a court of law if it applies to set aside the judgment belatedly without having taken the opportunity of appearing to raise those issues in its defence to the substantive claim.”

The NBC argued that the law and the rules of the Federal High Court permit a party against whom a default judgment was obtained to subsequently apply to have such a judgment set aside on recognized grounds.

NBC appeals judgment stopping imposition of fines on broadcast stations

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