Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has denied announcing an increase in the hate speech fine to N5m despite video evidence.
Mohammed had announced the increase in hate speech fine during the unveiling of the Reviewed Broadcasting code in August.
Days after the announcement, the minister while featuring on a TVC programme on Friday, August 7, 2020, explained that the fine was increased to deter people willingly violating the provision to destabilise the country.
However, Mohammed in a counter-affidavit in response to an originating motion filed to challenge the fine before a Federal High Court in Lagos by human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, denied making the announcement.
Effiong is currently challenging the fine by the National Broadcasting Commission on Nigeria Info FM.
The radio station was fined for alleged hate speech.
Obadiah Mailafia, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, had alleged that a Northern governor was one of the leaders of Boko Haram.
“Paragraph 19 is denied. The 2nd defendant (Mohammed) did not announce an increment in any fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5,000,000 or any other because there is a governmental body or institution mandated to regulate and enforce the Nigerian Broadcasting Code,” an affidavit deposed to by a Litigation Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Sunday Ojobo, reads.
The minister further stated that the constitution allows for human rights to be suspended for the sake of national interest.
He wrote, “The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for derogation from fundamental rights in the interest of public safety, public order and for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.”