Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) suit against the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for its refusal to grant its request seeking details of payments of license fees by broadcasting stations and platforms operating in Nigeria and the amount owed by the broadcasting stations.
MRA in a press statement signed by it’s Communications Officer, Idowu Adewale noted that the suit was filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
MRA is asking the Court to declare the NBC’s failure to provide it with the information it requested a breach of its right of access to information as well as a flagrant violation of the FOI Act and to order the Commission to pay it N1 million as exemplary and aggravated damages for unlawfully denying it the information.
The NBC and the Attorney-General of the Federation are named as Respondents in the suit filed on behalf of MRA by freedom of expression lawyer, Mr. Alimi Adamu, along with Ms Obioma Okonkwo, Mr. Monday Arunsi and Ms Opeyemi Yakubu.
Stating the grounds upon which the suit was brought, Mr. Adamu contended, among other things, that by virtue of Section 1 of the FOI Act, MRA has a right of access to information and can request information from any public institution such as NBC, which is an agency of the Federal Government and that by the provisions of Section 1(1), the organization needs not demonstrate any specific interest in the information being applied for.
According to him, although under section 4 of the Act, the NBC has to respond to MRA’s request within seven days, the Commission not only failed to provide the information requested within this period, it also failed to give the organization a notice as required by Section 4 (b) of the Act that it would not grant the request.
Adamu argued that the information requested by MRA does not fall within any of the exemptions under the Act and that the Court has the jurisdiction to compel the NBC to disclose the information requested under Sections 20 and 25 of the Act.
No date has been announced for the hearing of the suit.