By Edoamaowo Udeme
Justice Gabriel Kolawale of the Federal High Court, Abuja yesterday declined to preside over a suit seeking to bar the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from regulating and control of state government –owned broadcast media in the country.
The judge said that his reason for refusing to adjudicate on the suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/2751/14, filed by an Abuja-based lawyer, Abubakar D. Sani against the NBC, was personal but did not elaborate.
However, the judge said he will remit the suit’s case file back to the Chief Judge for re-assignment to another judge for adjudication. He advised the plaintiff and counsel representing the NBC to check with the court’s Registrar at a later date to find out which of the court the suit is assigned to.
Sani told journalists, after the court session, that he was surprised at the development as the case was only for mention yesterday. “I am at loss like anyone in the audience as to why the judge declined to adjudicate on the matter other than personal reason”.
In the suit, Sani had invited the court to determine the following questions: “Having regard to the provisions of item 66 of the Exclusive legislative List and Section 7 (5) and item 1 (b) of the Fourth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which respectively empower; the National Assembly and Local Government councils to regulate broadcasting media (radio and television stations,(etc) except those owned by state governments and collect licence fees for owning radio and television sets; whether to the extent that sections 2 , 9 (1) (a), (6), 14 (2) (a) and 15 of the national Broadcasting Commission Act 1992 which empower the defendant to regulate such media owned by state governments and collect licence fees for radio and television are not at ultra -vires the National Assembly, invalid, null and void on the grounds of inconsistency”.
He also seeks perpetual injunction restraining the defendant by itself, agents , servants or officers from continuing to regulate and control state government –owned broadcast media.