The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has been restrained by a Federal High Court in Abuja from imposing fines on broadcast stations.
In March, 2019, NBC imposed the sum of N500,000 fine each on 45 broadcast stations in the country over alleged violation of its code.
Justice James Omotosho, in a judgment held that NBC, not being a court of law, had no power to impose sanctions as punishment on broadcast stations.
He further held that the NBC Code, which gives the commission the power to impose sanctions, conflicts with Section 6 of the Constitution, which vested judicial power in the court of law.
He declared that the court would not do nothing while a body unilaterally assessed a fine without following the law.
He said that the commission broke the law when it appeared before the judge and court as a complainant at the same time.
The judge concurred that the Nigeria Broadcasting Code cannot grant the commission judicial authority to impose criminal sanctions or penalties, such as fines, because it is a subsidiary law that gives an administrative body, such as the NBC, the authority to implement its terms.
He also agreed that the commission, not the Nigeria Police Force, had no power to conduct a criminal investigation that would lead to criminal trial and imposition of sanctions.
“This will go against the doctrine of separation of powers,” he said.
Omotosho held that what the doctrine sought to achieve was to prevent tyranny by concentrating too much power in one organ.
“The action of the respondent qualifies as excessiveness as it had ascribed to itself the judicial and executive powers,” he said.