- AIT, RayPower FM Back on Air as Court Orders Re-opening
The Africa Independent Television and RayPower FM shut down on the orders of National Broadcasting Commission are back on air.
The two broadcast houses, shut down on Thursday, resumed transmission Friday evening following an order by a Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday.
The court ordered the NBC and other parties to a suit filed by Daar Communications Plc, operator of African Independent Television and RayPower 100.5 FM to maintain status quo.
Ruling on an ex parte application by Daar Communications Plc, Justice Inyang Ekwo directed all the parties to maintain status quo as of May 30, 2019, pending the determination of the plaintiff’s application for an interlocutory injunction against the NBC and the two other defendants – the Federal Ministry of Culture and Information and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The applicant had filed the ex parte motion on May 30 informing the court that “credible information just reaching” it “has it that the defendants have concluded plans to, in the next few days, invade and shut down the premises of the plaintiff and/or part thereof.”
But on Thursday, the NBC, through its Director-General, Dr Modibbo Kawu, announced its decision to suspend the company’s operating licences indefinitely.
Kawu stated that the infractions committed by the media houses owned by Daar Communications included their inability to pay their licence renewal fees and the airing of a presidential election documentary while the matter was still before a tribunal, among others.
At the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday, Mr Benson Igbanor of Chief Mike Ozekhome’s law firm moved the Daar Communication’s ex parte application seeking to avert the suspension of its licences by the NBC.
In his ruling delivered shortly after listening to Igbanor, Justice Ekwo granted the order for parties to the suit to maintain status quo, but refused to grant prayers 1 and 2 contained in the applicant’s application.
The judge said such prayers could not be granted in the absence of the defendants.
One of the prayers rejected by the court, sought “an ex parte order of interim injunction” restraining defendants “from blocking, jamming, stopping, removing from air and/or interfering with the airwaves of the plaintiff/applicant 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 this application.”
The other prayer rejected by the court sought a similar order to restrain the defendants “from invading the premises of the plaintiff/applicant, or closing down the said premises, its operations or broadcast services, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed along with this application.”
Justice Ekwo said the two prayers would not be granted without hearing the defendants.
He, instead, ordered parties to maintain status quo and directed the defendants to appear in court on June 13 to show cause why the prayers rejected on Friday and as contained in a motion on notice filed by the plaintiff, should not be granted.
A copy of the enrolled order made by the judge on Friday read in part, “It is hereby ordered as follows:
“That prayers 1 and 2 on the motion ex parte cannot be granted without hearing the other parties.
“An order is hereby made 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.”
He added, “Defendants are hereby ordered to show cause on the next date of hearing why the prayers on the motion on notice of the plaintiff/applicant ought not to be granted.
“Case adjourned till June 13, 2019 for defendants to appear in court and show cause as ordered.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government had earlier on Friday come under more attacks for suspending the licences of the African Independent Television and RayPower FM operated by DAAR Communications Limited, owned by the Peoples Democratic Party chieftain, Raymond Dokpesi.
Suspension repressive, say PDP governors
But the Peoples Democratic Party governors, in their reaction to the suspension, described it as repressive and asked the Federal Government to reverse the suspension of the licences.
The reaction of the governors was contained in a communiqué read by the Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Mr Seriake Dickson, in the early hours of Friday after its meeting at the Bayelsa State Government Lodge in Abuja on Thursday night.
Dickson said, “The forum noted the shocking intolerance and act of repression against the media by the Federal Government. As you are aware, DAAR Communications, we understand, has been closed down. And our position is that due process must be followed.
“If there is any allegation of infraction, then due processes of the law should take place because when you shut down news outlet, when you harass and intimidate journalists, then you are shutting down Nigerians from speaking their minds. And in democracy, freedom of expression is a cardinal component.
“So we condemn what has taken place and we urge the Federal Government and its agency to forthwith, do what is right; that is the reopening of the company and follow the due process of the law.”
2021 WASSCE To Hold August/ September
The West African Examinations Council, Nigeria, says the 2021 West African Senior School Certificate Examination will commence in August and not May.
WAEC also debunked reports by some news platforms that it postponed the examination.
In a statement on Friday, Acting Head, Public Affairs, WAEC, Nigeria, Demianus Ojijeogu, said WAEC Nigeria Head, Patrick Areghan, was quoted out of context at a briefing on Tuesday when he announced the release of results of WASSCE for private candidate
According to Ojijeogu, Areghan said the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic has distorted the academic calendars of schools, hence, it will be impossible for candidates to sit for the examination in May because most of the schools are still in their first term
The statement was titled, ‘Conduct Of WASSCE For School Candidates, 2021 In Nigeria’.
The statement said Areghan had at the Tuesday briefing said, “Let me also use this opportunity to dispel rumours being peddled about by some people regarding the conduct of WASSCE for School Candidates, 2021. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still very much felt in the education sector
“The academic calendar has been distorted. It will, therefore, not be possible to have the examination in May/June this year. A convenient International Timetable for the conduct of the examination will soon be released.”
The statement added, “The arrangement is in line with the current academic calendar and was done in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education
“Consequently, the Council wishes to inform schools, candidates and the general public that the examination will hold from August 16, 2021 to September 30, 2021. The International timetable for the conduct of the examination will be released in due course.”
Lagos Eases Restrictions on Social Gatherings, Event Centres
The Lagos State Government has further eased restrictions on social gatherings and event centres across the state.
This was contained in a press statement titled ‘Lagos State Government eases restrictions on social and event centres’, on Friday.
The statement was signed by Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile Yusuff, and the Director-General, Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr. Lanre Mojola.
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, after due consultation and deliberations with relevant “stakeholders and MDA’s including The Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Lagos State Safety Commission has approved the further easing of social centres across the State with immediate effect,” it added.
Meanwhile, Akinbile-Yusuff and Mojola have issued new guidelines for social/event facilities reopening.
While stating that COVID-19 protocols must be complied with, the officials said that “any violation of this protocol shall attract fines and penalties in line with the Lagos State Infectious Diseases Control Regulation 2020”.
Some of the guidelines stated that event centres must register before reopening and event duration should not exceed a maximum period of six hours.
The guidelines read in part, “All event centres must hold a valid license of The Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture prior to operating as an event center in the State.
“Safety Marshals shall be deployed by an accredited event safety consultant from Lagos State Safety Commission for every social event with attendance exceeding over 200 people.
“Occupancy limit at any event must not exceed 50 per cent of the maximum design capacity of the hall, wherein Occupancy Limit stickers provided by the Lagos State Safety Commission must be boldly pasted at the entrance of the event hall.
“Maximum allowable capacity for Event Centers irrespective of occupancy limit is 500 people. Deep cleaning must be carried out before and after every event.
“Physical distancing shall be maintained between seated guests and a maximum number of seated guests should be six people on a table of 10 persons.
“Event duration should not exceed a maximum period of six hours.
“Event center owners/ planners/vendors would be responsible for any breach of protocols by their staff.”
UK Court Bans THISDAY Editor and Arise TV Chairman, Obaigbena From Serving As Director Of Any Company For 7 Years
According to the court, Obaigbena made efforts to clear some payments, but there were still large sums that remained outstanding.
The United Kingdom has disqualified the founding Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of THISDAY Media, ARISE News Channel and ARISE Magazine, Nduka Obaigbena, from serving as a director of any company in the country for seven years.
The application for disqualification was made under Section 6 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 and arose from the compulsory liquidation of Arise Networks Ltd of which Obaigbena was the sole director since its incorporation on October 30, 2012.
According to the judgement, published on BAILII, the company had zero turnovers and as of December 31, 2013, it had recorded losses of £3,854,112 and debts of £1,545,883.
Due to foreign exchange restrictions by the Nigerian government in September 2014, it was difficult to “transfer necessary funding to ARISE”.
In December 2014, the company had expense debts of more than £3 million. The debt owed to creditors led to increased pressure from late 2014 onwards due to the company’s inability to pay off its debts.
A paragraph of the judgement partly read: “As of 31 December 2014, the total losses were £12,922,174, with trade creditors (which includes those working for the company) of £3,737,445 and associates being £14,407,929. By 31 December 2015, the total losses were £24,913,106 with the trade creditors (which includes those working for the company) in the sum of £5,635,596 and associates being £19,681,779. By 22 April 2016, the total losses were £25,671,167, trade creditors (which includes those working for the company) £5,850,730 and associated companies £20,313,691. The trade creditors rose by £2,113,285 even taking into account that certain liabilities have been discharged. The associated companies’ debt during this period rose by in excess of £5 million.”
An email quoted in the judgement read, “Hi Kevin/Nduka, Happy anniversary, I have been working under contract for six months at Arise. I’ve been paid one month’s money. February’s money is three months late. Still nothing, when will I get what is owed?”
According to the court, Obaigbena made efforts to clear some payments, but there were still large sums that remained outstanding. With no certainty of when any of the payments would be made, the court took into account that it did not consider the case of dishonesty but rather unreliability.
“However, this does not mean that the case is any less serious. The public interest is served in this case, in my judgement by disqualifying Mr Obaigbena for a period of 7 years,” the judgement read.
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