Lai Denies Announcement Of =N=5M Hate Speech Fine Despite Video Evidence

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Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture

Alhaji Lai Mohammed has denied ever announcing the increment of hate speech fine from N500,000 to N5 million.

Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture, revealed his position in a counter-affidavit in response to a suit filed against him at a federal high court in Lagos.

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

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

The radio station was fined for alleged hate speech. Obadiah Mailafia, former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had alleged that a northern governor was one of the leaders of Boko Haram.

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

Said Ojobo in the affidavit: “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 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 had the right to sanction any media outfit that did not conform to the broadcasting code.

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