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MRA sues NBC over social media regulation

MRA says NBC’s move to regulate and license social media platforms violates right to freedom of expression

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja challenging the legal authority of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to regulate and license social media platforms in Nigeria or to determine whether a broadcasting station is patriotic or not.

NBC is Nigeria’s broadcast regulatory agency.

In the suit, in which MRA is being represented by a team of 14 lawyers, led by Abuja-based constitutional lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, the organization is asking the court to declare that since the NBC has no regulatory authority over social media platforms, it lacks the power to impose broadcast licenses on social media platforms as they are not broadcasting stations under the National Broadcasting Commission Act or any other law or subsidiary legislation in existence in Nigeria.

It comes after NBC insisted social media platforms must be registered in Nigeria to operate within the country.

MRA wants the court to declare that NBC’s move to regulate and license social media platforms constitutes a violation of its right to freedom of expression, according to a statement signed by its communication officer Idowu Adewale.

It says it is a breach of Nigeria’s treaty obligations by virtue of its being a signatory to the international legal instruments.

It cited Section 39 of the Constitution; Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9), Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

MRA is also seeking a declaration that it is not within the regulatory authority of the NBC under the NBC Act or any other law in existence in Nigeria to determine whether a broadcasting station is patriotic or not.

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