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Nigeria’s information minister, Lai denies announcing N5m hate speech fine despite video evidence

The minister of Information, Lai Mohammed has denied and debunked  that he announced the increment of hate speech fine from N500,000 to N5 million.

The position of the minister was contained in a counter-affidavit in response to a suit filed against him at a federal high court in Lagos.

Recall that the minister unveiled the amendment to the country’s broadcasting code in Lagos where the increment of the new fine was announced in August.

A human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong is currently challenging the fine by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on Nigeria Info FM.

Recall that the radio station, Info FM was fined for alleged hate speech.

Former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Obadiah Mailafia had alleged that a northern governor is one of the leaders of Boko Haram.

However, in the affidavit deposed by Sunday Ojobo, an official of the Information ministry, the minister said he never announced the increase of the hate speech fine.

“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,” Ojobo said in the affidavit.

“The constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria provides for derogation from fundamental rights in the interest of public safety, public order and for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.

“The first respondent (NBC) has powers in determining and applying sanctions including revocation of licences of defaulting stations which do not operate in accordance with the broadcast code and in the public interest.

“A public affairs commentator, anchor of programmes and the media are not to use their platform to incite public violence or disorder or in a manner detrimental to the national interest.

“It is within the purview of the federal government of Nigeria to maintain public safety, public order in the interest of all citizens of Nigeria to avoid breakdown of law and order.”

On its part, the broadcasting commission said it has the right to sanction any media outfit that does not conform to the broadcasting code.

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