The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has denied announcing an increment in the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5m despite video evidence.
Mohammed had on August 5, 2020, announced the decision of the National Broadcasting Commission to increase the fine for hate speech, but in a counter-affidavit in response to an originating motion filed before a Federal High Court in Lagos by human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong he denied saying such.
Effiong is challenging the imposition of N5m fine on Nigeria Info 99.3FM, Lagos, and the threat by the National Broadcasting Commission to punish other broadcast stations in the country over alleged hate speech.
However, in an affidavit deposed to by a Litigation Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Sunday Ojobo, the minister stated that he never announced the fine.
The affidavit further read, “Paragraph 19 is denied. The 2nd defendant (Mohammed) did not announce an increment in any fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5,000,000 or any other because there is a governmental body or institution mandated to regulate and enforce the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.”
The minister stated that the constitution allowed human rights to be suspended for the sake of national interest saying the NBC Act gave the commission the power to sanction stations that contravene its code.
The minister also argued that Effiong was not directly affected by the NBC sanctions and therefore lacked the legal right to challenge the NBC’s Code.
In its response to the suit, the NBC insisted that it had the right to sanction errant stations.