Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has denied that he announced the increment of the speech fine from N500,000 to N5 million.
He made this known in a counter-affidavit in response to a suit filed against him at a federal high court in Lagos.
Recall that some months ago, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) announced an amendment to the broadcasting code, where the increment of the new fine was announced.
Recall that weeks after the announcement, NBC fined Nigeria Info FM for alleged hate speech after interviewing Obadiah Mailafia, former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who alleged that a northern governor is one of the leaders of Boko Haram.
However, Human Rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong proceeded to the court to challenge the fine.
However, in the affidavit deposed by Sunday Ojobo, an official of the Information ministry, the minister said he never announced the increase of the hate speech fine.
“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.”