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Nigerian Press Council Act violates rights of free speech — Court (4)

IN THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT HOLDEN AT LAGOS, NIGERIA
ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2010
BEFORE A. M. LIMAN
JUDGE
SUIT NO: FHC/L/CS/1324/99
BETWEEN:
MALLAM ISMAILA ISA,  SAMAMUKA,  RAY EKPU, CHIEF AJIBOLA OGUNSHOLA,   NDUKAOBAIGBENA,   LADE BONUOLA, for themselves and on behalf of other Members of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria,  (Plaintiffs)
AND
PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA,   ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION, . MINISTER OF INFORMATION,  NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC of  NIGERIA (Defendants)

JUDGMENT

The court in Ukaegbu rather examined these limit within the context of several American authorities, which it rejected on the broad principle of constitutional incongruous and on the narrow ground disparateness of facts. Even a closer look at the dictum will disclose a delicate indispositiveness on the point.

In my view, Ukeagbu’s case does not appear to establish a general principle of law on the question of correct scope of Section 45 of the 1999 Constitution as it applies to Section 39 thereof, it is in my respectful view a decision insofar as the question of derogation is conserved that should be applied with the narrow and peculiar facts of the case.

At this stage, I think it is important to consider whether the general scheme of the Nigerian Press Council Act, the objective for which it is established, its legal and institutional framework, and the mischief it is intended to cure; whether law in its legislative scheme has the effect of abridging the right of the plaintiff’s and if so, whether such abridgement is within the derogatory provision of Section 45 of the Constitution.

The Act was promulgated to repeal the Nigeria Media Council Act 1988, to establish Nigerian Press Council with the objective to promote high professional standards for the Nigerian press and to deal with complaints emanating from members of the public about the conduct of journalist in their professional capacity or complaint emanating from the press about the conduct of persons or organisation towards the press.Section 1, establish the press council consisting of the chairman and other members who ex officio are representative of various institutions and organisation.

The chairman is to be appointed by the President and other members to be appointed by the Minister. Section 3, provides for the functions of the council, which includes: 1. Enquiring into complaints about the conduct of the council. 2. Monitoring the activities of the press with a view to ensuring compliance with the code of professional and ethical conduct of the Nigerian Union of Journalist. 3. Receiving application from and documenting the print media and monitoring their performance to ensure that owners and publishers comply with the terms of their mission statement and objectives in liaison with Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria. Section 9, provides for code of professional and ethical conduct to guide the press and journalist in the performance of their duty.


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