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Chief Raymond Dokpesi

Court orders reopening of AIT, Raypower

Chief Raymond Dokpesi

A federal high court sitting in Abuja has  nullified the suspension of the licences of African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower.

Inyang Ekwo, the presiding judge, gave the order on Friday.

DAAR Communications, owners of AIT and Raypower, had on May 31, filed a suit to prevent sanction from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

Since announcement of the suspension of the station’s license Thursday, there have been several voices raised by individuals and organisations across Nigeria and beyond, condemning the government’s action.

The Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) among others have all condemned the action and called for its reversal, with some warning that the action was a signal of intolerance of opposing views which is not a feature of democracy.

In an ex parte motion filed through Mike Ozekhome, its counsel, DAAR Communications had sought an order “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 howsoever 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.”

But on Thursday, NBC suspended the stations indefinitely, citing violation of its code.

In his ruling, Ekwo asked NBC and the stations to maintain the status quo as of May 31 when the suit was filed.

He also ordered the NBC and the ministry of information to appear on Thursday and show cause why the motion on notice challenging the licence withdrawal should not be granted.

 

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