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Lawyer Sues Federal Govt over radio station for Fulani’s (Radio Fulani)

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Captain Casmir Chinonso Nwafor, a Legal practitioner, from Anambra state has taken the Federal Government of Nigeria to court over the planned establishment of a radio station for the ethnic Fulani’s referred to as “Radio Fulani”.

In the originating Summon filed at the Federal High Court Enugu, and supported by a 26 paragraph affidavit deposed by the Applicant and accompanied by 7 exhibits, Barrister Nwafor is asking the court to declare as unlawful the application for a license to operate a Radio Station to be transmitted strictly in Fulani Language by the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE).

The matter has been listed for 25 July 2019.

Captain Casmir Chinonso Nwafor adult, male, Christian, Legal practitioner, Nigerian citizen of Uhudo Village, Oko, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State

The Originating Summons is praying the Court to answer the following questions:

a. “Whether the Proposed establishment of a Radio station to be transmitted strictly in Fulani language by the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) is not contrary to Section 9(1)(e) of National Broadcasting Commission Act, Cap 55 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004”.

b. “Whether the Proposed establishment of a Radio station to be transmitted strictly in Fulani language by the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) is not contrary to Section 55 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended”.

c. “Whether the Proposed establishment of a Radio station to be transmitted in Fulani language by the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) will not cause bad blood among the ethnic groups that constitute Nigeria that may lead to a war situation and thus a threat to National Security”.

In a WRITTEN ADDRESS IN SUPPORT OF THE ORIGINATING SUMMONS, The Applicant seeks against the Respondents the following reliefs:

i AN ORDER declaring as unlawful the application for a license to operate a Radio Station to be transmitted strictly in Fulani Language by the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE).

ii AN ORDER declaring as unlawful, null and void, the approval/license given by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) to operate a Radio Station to be transmitted strictly in Fulani Language in Nigeria.

iii AN ORDER revoking the license given to the Federal Government by the National Broadcasting Commission through the National Commission for Nomadic Education to operate a Radio Station to be transmitted strictly in Fulani language in Nigeria.

iv AN ORDER of perpetual injunction against all the Respondents from applying, approving or issuing any license for the establishment of a Radio Station to be transmitted strictly in Fulani or any other native language in Nigeria respectively.

A Fulani herdsman

See below other court processes on the Radio Fulani case filed in court:

IN THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE ENUGU JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT ENUGU

SUIT NO:__________

BETWEEN:

CAPTAIN CASMIR NWAFOR (RETIRED) – – – APPLICANT

AND

1. ATTORNEY GENERAL,
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
2. NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION
3. NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR NOMADIC EDUCATION

2. BRIEF FACTS OF THE CASE

2.1 The facts of the case herein are clearly set out seriatim in the affidavit attached to this originating summons.

2.2 This application is then consequently brought to have all the Respondents jointly and severally where applicable have their earlier decisions of applying for a license to operate Radio Station to be transmitted strictly in Fulani language and approving same nullified for being unlawful, unconstitutional under our laws and a threat to Nigeria’s peace and security.

3. LEGAL ARGUMENTS

ISSUE NO 1:

“Whether the Proposed establishment of a Radio station to be transmitted strictly in Fulani language by the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) is not contrary to Section 9(1)(e) of National Broadcasting Commission Act, Cap 41 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004”.

3.1 It is not in dispute that the 1st Respondent through the 3rd Respondent applied to the 2ndRespondent for a license to operate a Radio Station, now popularly called Radio Fulani where the Fulani Language will be “strictly used for its transmission”. It is also not in dispute that license has been granted by the 2ndRespondent through the 3rdRespondent to start operation of the Radio Station. These facts are clearly contained at pages 1 and 6 of the Guardian Newspaper of 24 May 2019 and page 4 of The Nations Newspaper publication of 26th May, 2019 respectively. See exhibits D and E. What is however distributing is that the entire transaction by the Respondents is contrary to the spirit of Section 9(1) (e) of the National Broadcasting Commission Act, the law that established the 2ndRespondent. The said section provides as follows “The Commissioner shall in the consideration of an application for a license under this Act, be satisfied that the Applicant shall not be used to offend the religion sensibilities or promote ethnicity, sectionalism and disaffection among the Peoples of Nigeria.”

3.2 It is unequivocal that Fulani is an ethnic group in Nigeria. It is also not in dispute that the said Fulani ethnic group speaks Fulani as their distinct language. It is also irrefutable that language is part of a people’s customs and traditions. The NBC Act frowns at operating a Radio or broadcasting Station that is based on ethnicity. Fulani is one of the ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria. It is therefore the submission of the Applicant that operating a Radio Station by the Federal Government where only Fulani Language will be used in its operation is a promotion of Fulani ethnic group to the sensibility and disaffection of other ethnic groups in Nigeria and is therefore contrary to Section 9(1) (e) of the NBC Act. The 2nd Respondent was being economical with the truth when he said in Exhibit E that the Radio will be used to educate migrant fishermen, herders, hunters, farmers and migrants. The said classes of people mentioned by the 2nd Respondent are not solely made up of people of Fulani ethnic group. Why then should the transmission be based “Strictly in Fulani language”? In interpreting this section of our Law My Lord, we urge the Honourable Court no to apply the literal Rule of interpretation. It is our submission that Literal Rule of interpretation can only be used where it would not produce absurdity or negate from the intention of the legislature. My Lord this is an age long persuasive ruling of the Virginia Supreme Court in BECK Vs SMITH (1836) 2 M & W 191 and was applied in COUNCIL OF UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN Vs ADAMOLEKUN (1967) 1 All NLR 213. My Lord, we humbly submit respectfully that what the honourable court should apply in this case is what the legislature foresaw that made it put that provision negating any radio station or media outfit with an ethnic or sectional dimension in Section 9(1) (e) of the NBC Act. My Lord, we humbly submit that the mischief the legislature wants to prevent is a situation where a radio station will be established to serve only one ethnic group as this will lead to promotion of ethnicity, sectionalism and disaffection among the Peoples of Nigeria. Even before coming onboard, my Lord can see the bad blood and disaffection the mere announcement of its intended establishment is generating among the peoples of Nigeria in Exhibits D, F and G. My Lord it is our further humble submission that Statutes are interpreted to enforce the law, to avoid the miscarriage of justice which could be the case if Statutes are wrongly interpreted. See with respect the decided cases of Ogbonna Vs AG Imo State (1992) 1 NWLR (Pt.220) 647; Kraus Thompson Org Vs NIPSS (2004) 17 NWLR (Pt. 901) 44 @ 60-61; Ibrahim Vs Mohammed (2003) FWLR (Pt.156) 150 @ 165.

We very humbly urge the Honourable Court to uphold our submission on this ground and answer the question in affirmation.

4. ISSUE NO 2

“Whether the Proposed establishment of the Radio Fulani by the Federal Government, through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) is not contrary to Section 55 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended”.

4.1 Section 55 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as Amended provides that the business of the National Assembly shall be conducted in English, and in Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba where adequate arrangements have been made. The Constitution approved only the 3 mentioned languages as official languages for the Republic, though still recognizing the others. The implication of this provision is that the Country’s Grundnorm did not include any other language apart from those named above as the nation’s official local languages. Hausa language is spoken and understood to a very reasonable extent in virtually all parts of Northern Nigeria whereas the Fulani language is limited to a group out of over 100 ethnic groups that make up the Northern Nigeria. Thus, we have the VON Hausa programs, Radio Nigeria Hausa programs, NTA Hausa programs and even BBC Hausa programs. It is our humble submission that all these channels are enough for the 3rd Respondent to send any message to actualize its mandate to the nomads. It could have as well created a program in any of the above mentioned or more platforms to propagate its message in Fulani language. However to set up an distinct Radio station where the programs shall only be transmitted strictly in Fulani language is not only absurd but against the spirit of the Section 55 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as Amended. In effect, the Federation should not use her finances to promote one ethnic language or ethnic group outside those provided in the Constitution. This is what the Federal Government is doing with the establishment of a Radio Station to be strictly transmitted in Fulani language.

4.2 My Lord, in interpreting this Section of the Constitution in determining this case, I urge the Honourable Court to reflect heavily on the 12 point rule of Constitutional interpretation as propounded by OBASEKI JSC, in the case of AG Bendel State Vs AG Federation (1981) 10 SC 1. Some of these rules include that while the language of the Constitution does not change the changing circumstances of a progressive society for which it was designed, it can yield new and further import to its meaning. The rules also states that a Constitutional provision should not be construed in such a way as to defeat its evident purpose nor read with “stultifying narrowness”. It went further to state that the principles upon which the constitution was established rather than the direct operation of literal meaning of the words used should measure the purpose and scope of its provision.

4.3 In Nafiu Rabiu Vs Kano State (1980) 8-11 SC 130 @ 149, SIR UDO UDOMA JSC stated inter alia in his Judgement as follows:
“My Lords, it is my view that the approach of this court to the construction of the Constitution should be and so it has been one of liberalism probably a variation on the theme of the general maxim of ut re magi valeat quam pereat. I do not conceive it to be the duty of this court to construe any of the provisions of the constitution as to defeat the obvious ends the constitution was designed to serve where another construction equally in accord and consistent with the words sense of such provisions will serve to enforce and protect such ends”

4.4 In view of the foregoing, it is our submission that the Respondents cannot deny that the proposed Radio Station is to transmit strictly in Fulani Language which we submit to be contrary to section 55 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended. We humbly urge the Honourable Court to construe the provision of Section 55 of the 1999 Constitution in our favour.

5. ISSUE NO 3

“Whether the Proposed establishment of the Radio Fulani by the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) will not cause bad blood among the ethnic groups that constitute Nigeria and thus a threat to National Security”

5.1 In arguing this point which seems like an offshoot from the 1st issue raised, we begin by referring this Honourable court to paragraphs 13,14,17,18 and 21 of the affidavit in support of this Originating Summons. See also Exhibits F and G attached to the affidavit. We adopt our arguments in the first issue raised in this application on the 3rd issue as well. A court of law represents the judiciary whose duty includes interpreting and applying laws; making laws as well; giving justice to the people; guarding the constitution and playing a special role in a Federation.

6. CONCLUSION

6.1 In the light of the submission above we therefore most respectfully urge this honourable court to answer all the questions on the face of our Originating Summons in favour of the Applicant and consequently grant all the reliefs sought therein.

ORIGINATING SUMMONS

BROUGHT PURSUANT TO ORDER 3 RULE 1 OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT (CIVIL PROCEDURE) RULES, 2013 AS AMENDED, SECTION 6(6) OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AS AMENDED AND UNDER THE INHERENT JURISDICTION OF THIS HONOURABLE COURT.

Let (i) Attorney General, Federal Republic of Nigeria of Federal Ministry of Justice Plot 71B Shagari Way Maitama Abuja., (ii) National Broadcasting Commission of 20 Ibrahim Taiwo Street, Asokoro District Abuja., (iii) National Commission for Nomadic Education of KM 4 Kaduna-Zaria Expressway Rigachikun Kaduna within thirty days after services of this summons, inclusive of the day of such service, cause an appearance to be entered for them to this summons which is issued upon the application of Captain Casmir Nwafor (Retired) of Uhudo Village, Oko, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State who claims to be (state the nature of the claim), for the determination of the following questions:

a. “Whether the Proposed establishment of the Radio Fulani by the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) is not contrary to Section 9(1)(e) of National Broadcasting Commission Act, Cap 55 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004”.

b. “Whether the Proposed establishment of the Radio Fulani by the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) is not contrary to Section 55 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended”.

c. “Whether the Proposed establishment of the Radio Fulani by the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) will not cause bad blood among the ethnic groups that constitute Nigeria and thus a threat to National Security”.

The Applicant hereby seeks against the Respondents the following reliefs:

(i) AN ORDER declaring as unlawful the application for a license to operate a Radio Fulani Station by the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE).
(ii) AN ORDER declaring as unlawful, null and void, the approval/license given by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to the Federal Government through the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) to operate a Radio Fulani Station in Nigeria.

(iii) AN ORDER revoking the license given to the Federal Government by the National Broadcasting Commission through the National Commission for Nomadic Education to operate a Radio Station to be transmitted in Fulani language in Nigeria.

(iv) AN ORDER of perpetual injunction against all the Respondents from applying, approving or issuing any license for the establishment of Radio Station to be transmitted in Fulani language in Nigeria.

LIST OF DOCUMENTS TO BE RELED UPON

i Parchment of Commission of the Applicant into the Nigerian Army dated 26th April, 2008.

ii Certificate of Military Service of the Applicant dated of June, 2018.

iii Receipt of Payment for Certification of Newspaper Publications.

iv The Guardian Newspaper Publication of 24th May, 2019, pages 1 and 6.

v The Punch Newspaper Publication of 24th May, 2019, page 2.

vi The Sunday Sun Newspaper Publication of 26th May, 2019 page 42.

vii The Nation Newspaper Publication of 26th May 2019, page 4.

AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF ORIGINATING SUMMONS

I, Captain Casmir Chinonso Nwafor adult, male, Christian, Legal practitioner, Nigerian citizen of Uhudo Village, Oko, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State do hereby make oath and state of follows:

1. That I am the Applicant in this suit and by virtue of my position I am very familiar with the facts of this case and facts deposed to herein.

2. That I am a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria having been called to the Nigerian Bar on 28 September, 1999.

3. That I was commissioned into the Nigerian Army on 26 Oct 2008 as a Second Lieutenant and deployed to the Nigerian Army Corps of Military Police (NACMP).

4. That I retired voluntarily as a Captain from the Nigeria Army on 26 April 2018 after serving my fatherland meritoriously. The Parchment of my Commission into the Nigerian Army and the Certificate of Meritorious Service are hereby annexed and marked Exhibit A and B respectively.

5. That upon my retirement, I relocated from Abuja to Awka where I established my law firm, VINCENT CHAMBERS at 239 Zik Avenue, Awka, Anambra State.

6. That the 1st Respondent is the Attorney General and Chief Law Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

7. That the 2nd Respondent is the Federal Government agent charged with receiving, processing and considering applications for the ownership of radio and television stations including cable television services, direct satellite broadcast and any other medium of broadcasting.

8. That the 2nd respondent is also responsible for recommending applications through the Minister of Information to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces for the grant of radio and television licenses. It is also responsible for regulating and controlling the broadcast industry.

9. The 3rd Respondent is the agency of the Federal Government tasked with formulating policy, issuing guidelines on all matters relating to nomadic education in Nigeria; arrange effective monitoring and evaluation of the activities of agencies concerned with nomadic education.

10. The 3rd Respondent is also saddled with the responsibility of implementing guidelines and ensuring geographic spread of nomadic education activities and targets for the nomadic people who cross state boundaries, among others.

11. That the former Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu had on Tuesday 21 May 2019 revealed that the 3rd Respondent had granted license to the Federal Government to operate a Radio station. He further stated that the station which will transmit strictly in Fulani Language would operate on 720KHz frequency.

12. That news on the said acquisition of the said radio license by the Federal Government was carried by lots of national print media including The Guardian Newspaper of 24 May 2019 and The Nation Newspaper of 26 May 2019 respectively.

13. That the Applicant approached the National Library Enugu which certified the copies of the said Guardian and The Nation Newspapers respectively. The receipt of payment and the said Certified Copies of pages 1 and 6 of the Guardian newspaper and page 4 of The Nation Newspapers are hereby attached as Exhibits C, D and E respectively.

14. That since the said news on the planned establishment of the radio station now popularly referred to as “Radio Fulani”, different religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria have risen against the action by the Federal Government. The ethnic groups including the Yoruba, the Igbo, the Niger Delta and the Middle Belt parts of Nigeria rose from a meeting after the Minister’s revelation to call on their people respectively to “rise in defence of their future existence”

15. That the news of the said meeting and threats by the ethnic group and condemnation by some religious groups are contained in some print media including Exhibit D, The Punch and Sunday Sun Newspapers of 24 May 2019 and 26 May 2019 respectively.

16. That the Applicant approached the National Library Enugu which certified the copies of the said Punch and Sunday Sun Newspapers respectively. The said certified copies of page 2 of The Punch Newspaper and page 42 of The Sunday Sun Newspaper are hereby attached as Exhibits F and G respectively.

17. That the Applicant waited to see the response of the Federal Government and other Respondents on the issue but till date none of the Respondents has denied applying for, issuing or obtaining the license to operate the said “Radio Fulani”.

18. That it is common knowledge that the security situation in the country has worsened in recent times with bandits, kidnappers, armed herdsmen, Boko Haram terrorists among others trying to outdo themselves in killings and abduction of Nigerians. They brandish all kinds of weapons, including the notorious AK 47 assault rifles.

19. That this action of the Federal Government if left to stand will worsen the security situation of the country which will lead to escalation of crises, more killings and other forms of violence that may even lead to a war situation in the country in view of the militant stand of some of the ethnic group in Nigeria.

20. That I know as a fact that Radio Nigeria, NTA, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and many private TV channels and even the popular DSTV and Startimes outfits have programs designed to be broadcast in Hausa language.

21. That I am a pensioner of the Nigerian Army under the Military Pensions Board.

22. That as a pensioner of the Nigerian Armed Forces, I can be called out for military service either on temporal or permanent basis especially if there is insurrection, hostility, public emergency or a state of war is declared by the President of Nigeria to aid the civil power in the preservation of the public peace.

23. That I voluntarily retired to enjoy a civil life and I do not want my civil life disturbed by any call out for another military service.

24. That it is in the public interest that this application is granted.

25. That it is in the interest of Justice for this Honourable Court to grant this application and consequently grant all the Reliefs sought there under.

26. That I depose to this affidavit in good faith and in accordance with the Oaths Act of Nigeria.

__________
DEPONENT

Sworn to at the Federal High Court Registry,
Enugu, this ……………….. day of ………………, 2019

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