A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from imposing fines, henceforth, on broadcast stations in the country.
Justice James Omotosho, in a judgement, also set aside the N500,000 fines imposed, on March 1, 2019, on each of the 45 broadcast stations.
Justice Omotosho 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, is in conflict with Section 6 of the Constitution, which vested judicial power in the court of law.
He said the court would not sit idle and watch a body arbitrarily imposing a fine without recourse to the law.
He said that the commission did not comply with the law when it sat as a complainant and at the same time, the court and the judge on its own matter.
The judge agreed that the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, being a subsidiary legislation that empowers an administrative body such as the NBC to enforce its provisions, cannot confer judicial powers on the commission to impose criminal sanctions or penalties such as fines.
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 judge set aside the fines imposed on 45 broadcast stations by NBC on March 1, 2019.
“The action of the respondent qualifies as excessiveness as it had ascribed to itself the judicial and executive powers,” he said.