By Tony Akowe, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has dragged the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) before the Federal High Court in Abuja to invalidate the controversial 6th broadcasting code.
A copy of the originating summon sighted by The Nation in Abuja joins Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami as defendant in the suit.
Plaintiffs in the suit are caucus leader Kingsley Chinda; his Deputy Chukwuma Onyema; Caucus Deputy Whip Ajibola Muraina; Mark Gbillah; Tyough Robert; Bulus Solomon; Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum; Yusuf Ayo Tajudeen and Onyeman Chukwuma.
The Chinda- led PDP caucus is backed by the Uche Secondus- led national leadership of the PDP but not recognised by the leadership of the House.
It claimed to have instituted the case on behalf of “themselves, individually and as representatives of the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives”.
In the suit filed on their behalf by Barrister Segun Fiki and Barrister Johnmary Chukwuasi Jideobi, the lawmakers want the court to determine whether by the provisions of Section 36 (12) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the Amended 6th Nigerian Broadcasting Code enacted/issued by the 1st Defendant which created the purported offences of “hate speech” and “fake news” and correspondingly purported to have imposed penalties is not unconstitutional, null and void.
They are also asking the court to determine whether or not, having regard to the extant provisions of Sections 6 and 23 of the National Broadcasting Commission Act Cap. N11 LFN 2004, the 1st Defendant has the statutory power to issue Broadcasting Code and whether the 6th Nigerian Broadcasting Code purportedly issued is not a nullity and therefore void?
They are also asking the court to determine “whether, having regard to the extant provisions of Sections 4 (1), (2), (3) & (4), 47 & 58(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Order 14 of the Standing Rules of the House of Representatives (Procedure on Subsidiary Legislation), the 1st and 2nd Defendants have the power or vires to enact, issue and give effect to or enforce the Amended 6th Nigerian Broadcasting Code without prior ratification by the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, and if not, whether the 1st Defendant’s enactment/issuance and application of the said Amended 6th Nigerian Broadcasting Code is not an usurpation of the legislative powers expressly conferred on the legislature by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)?
They prayed the court to declare the Amended 6th Nigerian Broadcasting Code unconstitutional, null and void especially since the said offences and penalties set out in the code have not been defined and/or prescribed in any written law by the National Assembly of Nigeria?
They are also asking the court to declare that the 2nd Defendant (NBC) is the sole authority statutorily empowered in Nigeria to enact and/or issue Broadcasting Codes throughout the Federation, to the exclusion of the 1st Defendant and that the 1st Defendant’s enactment of the 6th Amended Nigerian Broadcasting Code is ultra vires, unlawful, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
They also want an order of the court perpetually restraining the 1st Defendant from further enacting, issuing or enforcing any National Broadcasting Code.
The suit, which has not been assigned to any court, is supported by a 15- paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Francis U. Obalim and a written address dated 9th September, 2020.