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SERAP Asks Court to Stop Shutdown Of Broadcast Stations

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to restrain the federal government from shutting down broadcast stations in Nigeria over their coverage of the 2023 general elections.

SERAP Asks Court to Stop Shutdown Of Broadcast Stations

SERAP asked the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), whether jointly or severally or any other authority, person or group of persons from unilaterally sanctioning and threatening to revoke the licences of any broadcast stations and shutting down the stations on the grounds of covering the 2023 general elections.

Also joined in the suit, which is yet to be assigned to a judge, as defendant is Alhaji Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture.

The civil society organisation is also praying the court to determine whether the broadcasting code used by the NBC to sanction some broadcast stations and threaten to shut down others is not inconsistent and incompatible with freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom

The organisation further urged the court for an order of interim injunction restraining President Buhari, the NBC and Mohammed from threatening and sanctioning broadcast stations in the country simply for carrying out their constitutional duties, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed contemporaneously in this suit.

SERAP also wants the court to declare that the arbitrary action by NBC to sanction some broadcast stations and threaten to revoke the licences of others and shut them down for covering the general elections is a violation of section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.

In an affidavit attached to the suit, SERAP averred that it is a travesty of justice to punish and threaten broadcast stations seeking to promote election integrity and citizens’ engagement and participation, while allowing perpetrators of electoral violence and grave human rights violations escape accountability for their alleged crimes.

The applicant also submitted that rather than promptly investigating allegations of election-related violence and other infractions of the Electoral Act and the Nigerian Constitution, and going after suspected perpetrators, the Nigerian government is scapegoating the media by targeting and punishing broadcast stations.

SERAP contended that the use of NBC Act and Code in this case would open the door to arbitrariness and fundamentally restrict freedom of expression that is an integral part of the public order protected by the Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.

The organisation further argued that, “the media plays an essential role as a vehicle or instrument for the exercise of freedom of expression and information in a democratic society.

“The NBC legislation and codes do not confer unfettered discretion for the restriction of freedom of expression and media freedom on those charged with their implementation.

“The sanctioning of some broadcast stations and threat by the NBC to revoke the licences of others and shut them down is neither necessary nor proportionate, as it would unduly intrude upon Nigerians’ right to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom.

“The use of vague and undefined phrases such as ‘unpatriotic individuals’ ‘subversive, hateful, and inciting utterances, particularly post-election’, as grounds to sanction and threaten to broadcast stations is inconsistent and incompatible with human rights requirements.

“The Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties impose legal obligations on the Nigerian government to refrain from imposing restrictions which are not consistent with human rights requirements, including on discussion of political and election-related issues.

“It is also inconsistent with constitutional and international human rights requirements to sanction and threaten broadcast stations solely for their coverage of the issues around the general elections on the basis of vague phrases such as ‘unguarded statements’, and ‘negative conversations’ used by the NBC,” SERAP said.

 


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FCCPC Refuses to Challenge Multichoice over Hike of DStv, GOtv Subscriptions @ Tribunal

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Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has declined to oppose the preliminary objection of Multichoice Nigeria,  Pay-TV operator, which challenged the jurisdiction of a court sitting in Abuja that recently restrained it from increasing the prices of its DStv and GOtv packages.

FCCPC Refuses to Challenge Multichoice over Hike of DStv, GOtv Subscriptions @ Tribunal

Nikiomari Abeke, counsel for the FCCPC, told the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT) on Thursday that he was not opposing the application of Multichoice Nigeria.

Recall that the he tribunal had restrained MultiChoice from increasing its subscription rates pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice filed by Festus Onifade through Ejiro Awaritoma, his lawyer,.

Onifade, who sued Multichoice Nigeria Ltd, had accused the former of unjustly increasing subscription fees without one month’s notice to customers, seeking interim orders against the Pay TV.

A three-member tribunal, chaired by Saratu Shafii, had ruled in favor of Onifade by restraining Multichoice in the interim, in the suit marked CCPT/OP/2/2024.

The court  held that “the 1st Defendant(Multichoice) is hereby restrained, whether by themselves, her privies, assigns by whatsoever name called, from going ahead with impending price increase schedule to take effect from 1st May 2024 pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice already filed before this Honourable Tribunal.”

But M.J. Onibanjo (SAN), Multichoice’s lawyer, filed a preliminary objection urging the court to decline jurisdiction on the suit filed by Festus Onifade because such price dispute case had been decided before in favor of his client.

Onifade also asked the tribunal to direct Multichoice Nigeria Limited to pay the sum of N1 billion  or any amount the tribunal deemed fit in this circumstance for “deliberately disobeying, contravening, and failure to comply with the Interim Order of this Honourable Tribunal granted on the 29th April, 2024.”

At the resumed sitting, Onibanjo tendered and adopted the previous judgment of the tribunal in suit no CCPT/OP/1/2022(Exhibit A), alongside his application, saying when a court had determined an issue between the same parties on the same subject matter before, that matter cannot be re-litigated again by any tribunal or court.

“This tribunal cannot sit on appeal on its decision. This tribunal is bound by its own decision in Exhibit A; that it is not the forum where the claimant can come to seek to regulate the prices and services offered by Multichoice,” Onibanjo said, urging the tribunal to strike out the suit.

On his part, Onifade argued that the issue he placed before the court is whether Multichoice Nigeria gave adequate notice in respect of the May 1, 2024 price TV subscription increase, and not price regulation or increase.

“It is our submission that the eight-day notice issued by Multichoice Nigeria is insufficient in law. A monthly subscriber should be given at least a month.

The FCCP counsel, Abeke, said his client “is not in opposition of the first defendant (Multichoice) and to that extent, no process and no counter was filed to the motion of the first defendant.”

After hearing from the parties, the three-man panel chaired by Justice Thomas Okosu adjourned the suit to June  7 for ruling.

Multichoice announced new price adjustments on DStv and GOtv packages on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.


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9mobile Unveils Treelz Entertainment Platform

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Nigeria’s customer-focused telecommunications company, 9mobile, has unveiled Treelz, an innovative digital entertainment platform for customers on the 9mobile network.

Treelz is a platform designed for customers to experience a world of entertainment through Movies, e-learning, fun videos, gaming, music, sports, photo filters and lots more!

Speaking during the unveiling, the Products and Digital Services Champion at 9mobile, John Muo, stated that, “Treelz is a comprehensive entertainment ecosystem that combines advanced features and seamless connectivity to deliver an unparalleled user experience.

With Treelz, users can enjoy a wide range of exciting and engaging rich media contents, including video games, movie and music hubs, sports and e-learning platforms, which are all accessible through a single, intuitive platform.”

“Treelz is available on the 9mobile website and can be accessed under the “Digital Services” tab on 9mobile.com.ng or by simply clicking the link https://9mobile.com.ng/treelz.

Customers who are not on the 9mobile network but wish to enjoy the thrills of the platform should activate a 9mobile SIM or port their existing line to 9mobile to enjoy the service,” Mou added.

The platform represents the culmination of 9mobile’s commitment to innovation and customer-centricity, offering unparalleled features and capabilities.

Customers can access the rich contents on Treelz for as low as N30 per service via airtime subscription only. The daily or weekly subscription guarantees access to play games, watch movie, and listen to music on the website.

Chineze Amanfo, Public Relations Lead at 9mobile, while expressing her delight at the unveiling said, “The expertise and influence of the media are invaluable in helping 9mobile spread the word about this groundbreaking platform and its transformative impact on communication and entertainment.

Your endorsement and coverage will not only help raise awareness about Treelz by 9mobile but also empower individuals to embrace its unique qualities especially its ability to entertain and educate.”

With Treelz, 9mobile continues to push the boundaries of innovation within the digital interactive space. Experience the power of seamless connectivity, enhanced collaboration, and unmatched convenience with Treelz by 9mobile.


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Again, Financial Times Recognises BHM as one of Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies

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In a remarkable achievement, Nigerian company BHM has earned a coveted spot in the Financial Times ranking of Africa’s fastest-growing companies for the second consecutive year.

The prestigious FT ranking, rapidly becoming one of the critical barometers of business success across the African continent, recognises BHM’s stellar performance and solidifies its position as one of the nation’s corporate frontrunners.

The list ranks independent African companies by their organic, internally stimulated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue for the period under review.

“The incredible support from our clients and partners across the world has been instrumental in our growth,” said Ayeni Adekunle, Founder and CEO of BHM.

“This recognition is further validation of our strategic vision, and our ambition to build the first truly global communications services company with African roots.”

BHM’s inclusion in the FT ranking is another milestone, as the company continues to lead the industry with its innovative approach to communications.

The company’s impressive financial performance, spearheaded by robust revenue growth and strategic market expansion, has captured the attention of industry analysts and investors alike.

Despite the economic challenges in Africa within the period Abebe Selassie, Head of the IMF’s Africa department pointed out that many businesses still managed to survive: “Much of the private sector, particularly the private sector that’s not directly reliant on government business, has shown incredible resilience.”

The ranking was created by the FT and Statista to showcase the continent’s private growth champions. “The FT-Statista ranking reveals the type of companies that, even in hard times, have managed to grow, often by disrupting markets,” the article stated.

BHM’s ability to capitalise on emerging opportunities while navigating the complexities of the African business landscape has solidified its reputation as a force to be reckoned with. With research-led innovations such as the continent’s first PR & Communications Report (APCR), and the UK’s Cost of Living Survey, among others, the company has continuously exhibited its breadth for data-led solutions. World PR Day (WPRD) which is celebrated every July 16, is also one of the company’s interventions in the global communications landscape.

Femi Falodun, Executive Director, BHM Holdings said: this is a testament to the hard work of our people and the incredible support we’ve enjoyed from partners and clients,

BHM’s story demonstrates the immense potential that exists within the country’s vibrant communications sector. The company’s ambitious plans for further expansion across Africa and beyond point towards an even brighter future.


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