The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice sitting in Abuja has given the Nigerian government 30 days to respond to the suit filed by One Love Foundation seeking damages and orders to prevent the government from gagging the media.
The suit, filed through human rights lawyer, Samuel Ihensekhien Junior on behalf of the group's president, Patrick Eholor, also seeks damages and restraining orders against Nigerian government, to prevent it from enforcing Sections 5, 4, 3, 1 of NBC code on all broadcasting stations.
The sections relate to reportage and giving details of security issues and persons affected by insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria.
But the group argued that the actions offend all relevant laws and the African Charter on Media and Broadcasting Rights and Freedom of Press.
The foundation had in a suit No. ECW/CCJ/APP/43/21 sought an order of court directing the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government and the National Broadcasting Corporation, a government agency, to desist from enforcing Section 5, 4, 3, 1 of the NBC code on all broadcasting stations.
In a "Notice of Registration" dated July 28, 2021, sighted by SaharaReporters, the court asked Nigerian government to file a defence within thirty (30) days after service of the application.
The notice read, "Notice is hereby given that an application between Patrick Eholor and the Federal Republic of Nigeria was lodged by the applicant and registered by the court on the 28th July 2021
"You are required to lodge a defence within thirty (30) days after service of this application on you and take note that in default of your so doing, the applicant may proceed herein and judgement may be given in your absence."
The suit is also challenging the clampdown on broadcasting organisations by the Buhari government and the NBC, an action which the suit said contradicts Sections 24, 33 of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended in 2011), which guarantees the rights to freedom of press, expression and information as also contained in Articles 8 and 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended in 2011.