, 15 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Morrow I shall look at the charges the NBC raises in the letter to AIT (shown below). Does it accord with S.39 of the CFRN 1999? Is there an offence as treasonable rhetoric? Is the NBC code in conflict with S.39? Is NBC against press freedom? #AITUnderSiege #NBCAgainstFreePress
I shall proceed to answer the question, does the letter accord with S.39 of the CFRN 1999? My answer is: NO.
The tone, tenor and language of the letter highlight a certain draconian attitude, which goes against freedom of expression guaranteed by S.39 CFRN thus:
When the NBC alleges that "statements are deliberately transmitted to suit the interest of certain groups", it is showing its partisan hand. A regulator should not make allegations it can't substantiate as the onus of proof lies in it.
S.39 of the CFRN 1999 guarantees the right to freedom of expression and the press. Though this section can be derogated from, by virtue of S.45, only if the conditions of derogation stated therein are met. Here is S.45
Question is: can AIT be sanctioned on the basis of: 1) "divisive rhetoric of bloggers"? (2) "offensive statements of bloggers"? (3) "treasonable rhetoric"?
My answer is NO, for the following reasons:
1) that a statement is offensive is a question of fact solely reserved for the court to determine- Chike Obi v DPP
2) If in the judgment of the broadcaster, the statement is not intended to cause harm - COP v Iweanya
3) NBC cannot rely on its claim that a statement
is "divisive, and a "treasonable rhetoric"" because doing so is a violation of the freedom of expression guaranteed by S.39 of the CFRN 1999- Speaker Bauchi State House of Assembly v Danna & Duke v Governor of Cross River State
4) to allege that a "statement is divisive, offensive and treasonable rhetoric" is so vague that no court can grant approval to a sanction- I rely on the persuasive decision of the Indian Supreme Court in Subramanian Swamy v Union of India
5) Treasobable rhetoric doesn't exist in our statute books. In fact, treasonable rhetoric is an offence manufactured by the NBC. Nobody can be punished for an offence not provided for in a written law- Aoko v Fagbemi
6) However, if it is assumed but not conceded that "treasonable rhetoric" exists in our statute books, the NBC must show that AIT had treasonable intention by transmitting the tweets that NBC alleges
7) There can be no "treasonable rhetoric" if there's no treasonable intention- State v Ivory Trumpet Publishing Co & Ors.
What's the treasonable intention of AIT? To over-awe PMB or to overthrow the government? How?
In its letter, NBC cites Sections 3.1.2 and 5.6.2 of its broadcasting code. Is the Code lawful? Yes, by virtue of the NBC Act. But, is it in conflict with the S.45 of CFRN 1999?
My view is: NO
The grounds on which S.39 can be breached by virtue of S.45 cannot be determined by the NBC. What is offensive, divisive and not in the public interest is for the court to determine. The court is the arbiter of what can derogate S.39 of the Constitution
The NBC letter to AIT, a warning which forms part of the disciplinary steps that the NBC threatens to take, can be challenged by AIT in court - Abdul Mahmud & 13 Ors v University of Jos & 2 Ors ( Unreported judgment of the Jos High Court 1991 Per Dauda Azaki)
Is the NBC against press freedom? The tone of the NBC letter suggests so. In Speaker Bauchi State House of Assembly v Danna the court held that offensive statements cannot be used to breach citizens' freedom of expression
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