AIT Shutdown: Court Orders Maintenance Of Status Quo

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered status quo on the withdrawal of operating licence of Daar Communications, owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT), Raypower FM, Faaji FM and Daarsat, over alleged breach of broadcasting code.

Concise News reports that the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Modibbo Kawu, announced the suspension of the firm’s licence on Thursday.

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The offences listed by the NBC included the airing of a presidential election documentary by the AIT, a matter pending before a tribunal, the inability of the company to pay its fees, the use of “divisive and inciting contents from the Social Media” among others.

But in an ex parte application brought by its lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Daar Communications asked the court to order status quo ante bellum pending the determination of the main suit.

This news medium understands that the NBC had in a letter dated May 27, 2019, accused Daar of breaching Nigeria’s Broadcasting Code with its Kakaaki and other programmes and subsequently withdrew its licence.

Daar asked the court to grant its prayers in “restraining the defendants from blocking, jamming, stopping removing from air and/or interfering with the air waves of the plaintiff/applicant (Daar Plc) in any way and manner however called from invading the premises of the plaintiff/applicant (Daar Plc) or closing down, viet armis, the said premises, its operations or broadcast services, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed along with this application.”

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in his ruling on Friday, gave “an order for the maintenance of status quo ante bellum as at 30th of May, 2019, pending the hearing and final determination of the motion on notice filed along with this application.”

He also ordered the NBC, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, and the Attorney General of the Federation to appear on Thursday, June 13, to show cause why the motion on notice challenging the action of the regulatory agency should not be granted.

The Judge adjourned further proceedings till June 13, 2019.