Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed has denied before a court announcing an increase in the hate speech fine from N500, 000 to N5 million.
The minister had on August 5 announced the decision of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to increase the fine.
He denied this in a counter-affidavit in response to an originating motion filed before a Federal High Court in Lagos by human rights lawyer Inibehe Effiong.
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.”
Effiong is challenging the imposition of N5 million fine on Nigeria Info 99.3FM Lagos and the threat by the NBC to punish other broadcast stations in the country over alleged hate speech.
The minister further stated that the constitution allows for human rights to be suspended for the sake of national interest.
He also argued that Effiong was not directly affected by the NBC sanctions and therefore lacked the legal right to challenge NBC’s Code.
NBC in response to the suit insisted that it had the right to sanction errant stations.