The Federal High Court has nullified the suspension of Daar Communications’ broadcast licence ahead of a court hearing next Thursday.
The suspension imposed on Daar, which owns African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM, was imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) yesterday but has now been lifted by the Federal High Court, led by Justice Inyang Ekwo.
At a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, NBC director-general Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu said the reasons for the indefinite suspension included the airing of a presidential election documentary by the AIT, a matter pending before a tribunal, the inability of the company to pay its fees and the use of “divisive and inciting contents from social media.”
Modibbo said: “In their relationship with the NBC, Daar Communications carries on as if it is beyond the regulatory direction of the commission. They don’t pay their licence fees as and when due and their broadcast is patently partisan and one-sided and deliberately inciting and heating up the polity.
“The management of the company has created the habit of using the channel to fight its personal battles contrary to the statutory requirements of the law.
“Recently, NBC monitoring reports on AIT and Raypower indicate the use of divisive comments accredited to the segment of Kakaaki, tagged Kakaaki Social, where inciting comments like, ‘Nigeria is cursed,’ ‘We declare independent state of Niger Delta’, ‘Nigeria irritates me’, ‘This country is gradually Islamising’ and other similar slogans are used without editorial control in breach of the broadcast code.
“Consequently, after several meetings with the management of Daar Communications Plc and many letters of warning, the NBC took a decision to suspend the licence of Daar Communications Plc for failure to abide by the commission’s directives, the provisions of the NBC Act Cap N11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.”
Daar Communications had asked the court to order the commission to reverse its ban, claiming that it had not breached any broadcast code.
Justice Ekwo ordered the NBC, the Federal Ministry of Information and the Attorney General to appear before the court on June 13 to show cause why the motion from Daar Communications should not be granted.