Barely 24 hours after National Broadcasting Commission withheld the license of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Ray Power radio, Federal High Court in Abuja today, Friday, June 7 has ordered its immediate reopening.
The broadcasters, owned by Daar Communications Plc, were on Thursday suspended indefinitely by the National Broadcasting Commission, accussing the outlets of violating the national broadcasting code.
Amongst other allegations, the NBC accused both channels of broadcasting “inciting” messages, especially from the social media.
The suspension has been met with condemnations, with activists accusing the NBC of attempting to clamp down on free press.
In a ruling on Friday, the judge, Inyang Ekwo, said both parties should maintain status quo as of May 30 when the case by Daar Communication was filed.
“I have noted the eight grounds upon which the exparte application was hinged upon, application of this nature must be considered judicially and judiciously. That, I have done,” Mrs Ekwo said.
“I hereby order that parties shall maintain status quo ante bellum as at May 30, 2019 pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed in this case.”
Daar Communication, represented by its founder, Raymond Dokpesi, had in a exparte motion prayed the court to order the maintenance of status quo ante bellum as at May 30.
The firm also prayed the court to “restrain the defendants from blocking and/or interfering with the air waves of Daar Communication Plc in any way and manner howsoever, in its broadcast and airing of news, views, documentaries, or any other legitimate broadcast material that is usually associated with television, radio or social media broadcast pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed along with the exparte application.”
They also prayed the court to restrain the defendants from invading or closing down the premises of Daar Communication, its operations or broadcast services, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed along with this application.
Defendants in the case are the Federal Ministry of Information and the Attorney General of the Federation.