Lawyer says IMC acted within its mandate
February 25, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
Lawyer Brima Koroma has submitted to Judge Musu D. Kamara that the Independent Media Commission (IMC) didn’t violate any law or had no intention to muzzle the press by indefinitely suspending the ‘Monologue’ programme presented by Dr. David Tam Baryoh.
Late last year, the media regulatory body suspended the widely listened to radio programme after they received complaints from Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma and the Inspector General of Police, Francis Alieu Munu, that the presenter had not contacted them to respond to issues raised in one of his broadcasts.
Dr. David Tam Baryoh was furious with the decision of the commission, thus initiating litigation in the High Court that the commission’s decision to suspend the popular good governance programme was “illegal, baseless and unfounded.”
The matter has since been in court for over four months.
Counsel for the plaintiff, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, said last month that they had a clear case against the IMC. He told the judge on the last day of his address to the court that the IMC had deliberately violated the cardinal principles of natural justice as his client was not given the opportunity to be heard on the complaint made against him.
But while addressing the court yesterday on judicial irregularities, lawyer for the IMC, Brima Koroma submitted that the decision to suspend the ‘Monologue programme’ was neither irrational nor irregular as it was in accordance with the IMC Act of 2000 and the Code of Practice for journalists.
He referred the court to section 23 of the IMC Act of 2000 which says, “The commission may determine such standards of overall performance or specific standards of performance in relation to the provision of radio, television broadcasting, DTH, satellite, or public relation/advertising services by a media institution as in the opinion of the commission ought to be achieved by that media institution.”
He said ‘may’ and ‘opinion’ are the operative words in section 23, adding that the two words give the respondent power, duty, and discretion. He noted that the IMC ensures that the standard of performance in relation to the provision of radio and television broadcasting services are such that the public interest is not jeopardised.
“The applicant, instead of inviting the person involved in the broadcast which forms the object of the complaint before the IMC, he instead invited the Deputy Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Karamo Kabbah, to respond to allegations directed to the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma. This in my opinion is wrong. He will not be in the appropriate position to argue on issues in another ministry,” lawyer Koroma argued.
He said the IMC in their wisdom invited Dr. David Tam Baryoh and not his producer, after they received the complaint against him.
“We argue that the respondent (IMC), having followed the principles of natural justice to allow Dr. Baryoh to fully present his case, cannot now accused us of reaching an irregular or irrational decision for simply following the laws and exercising the powers contain therein,” he further submitted.
He also maintained that the commission’s decision to suspend the ‘Monologue programme’ and not the license of the media institution was not irrational or amount to procedural impropriety. He said” “procedural impropriety cannot be complained of where the laws and procedures established therein have not been flouted.”
The matter continues.