The Counsel representing a renowned journalist and presenter of a popular local radio programme MONOLOGUE Dr. David Tam Bayoh, Lawyer Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Esq. today submitted in the High Court before Justice Musu D. Kamara that the Independent Media Commission (IMC), the country’s media regulatory body does not have the powers to slam an indefinite suspension on a radio programme as stipulated in the IMC act of 2000.
“There’s no provisions in the IMC act of 2000 including the 20006 and 2007 amended sections that says a media house should be suspended indefinitely. We believe the suspension of the monologue radio programme on the 25th August 2015 which is termed as “indefinite” is harsh, excessive and completely disproportionate”, he submitted.
Lawyer Abdulai said the IMC act No.12 of 2000 makes it clear the procedure to follow before a media institution or programme could be suspended.
He explained that the complaint committee created by section 9 sub-section 1 and paragraph (b) of the IMC is an organ within the commission tasked with enquiries and findings into specific matters and to further makes recommendations to the action the commission is supposed to take based on its findings.
“The Commission hastily took upon itself and took a decision outside its mandate while the complaint committee was still investigating” he averred.
He explained that the normal procedure is that the complaint committee would enquire into complaint and report to the commission in writing, making recommendations as to the action that should be taken.
“It is not the duty of the commission especially the Chairperson and the executive secretary or any other organ other than the complaint committee to slam a suspension for a complaint that is already before the complaint committee”, he said.
Lawyer Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai argued that the decision of the commission through it executive secretary to suspend MONOLOGUE indefinitely is in excess of it jurisdiction, adding that the commission does not have the powers to do so without waiting on the recommendations from the complaint committee.
He stressed that any decision outside the recommendations of the complaint committee is an abuse of process and thus violate the IMC act itself.
He cited the Supreme Court practice volume one paragraph 15/14/28(a).
He went on to state that the commission triggered a procedure the moment they referred the matter to the complaint committee which he said they should have followed logically.
He told the court that the IMC had violated the natural Justice principles, arguing that at the hearing of two complaint that was made to the IMC against his client on 24th August 2015 which was the only hearing was only witnessed by the minister of Transport and Aviation Balogun Koroma as the first complaint and the second complaint Inspector General of Police Francis Allieu Munu was absent.
He said the IMC act made provisions as to how a punishment can be imposed on a defaulter for the IMC code and conduct.
At the end of his submission, he begged the judge to adjourned the matter to enable him to make available the recordings of the radio programme which is alleged to have incited including a supplemental affidavit to the court.
Justice Musu D. Kamara then adjourned the matter to the 23rd November 2015.