The hearing of the suit filed against the organizers of BBNaija suffered set back as the matter did not go on for hearing as scheduled.
The matter came up for hearing before Justice Liman of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos. Justice Liman who was eager for the matter to go on for hearing asked why the matter could not proceed to hearing as scheduled; Counsel to the 2nd Respondent (National Broadcasting Commission), Mr. Olayinka Aileru informed the court that the Counsel to the Applicants had filed a counter-affidavit and written address to his Preliminary Objection to the suit and he intends to file a reply on points of law and he is still within time to do so. Sonnie Ekwowusi, Esq., Counsel to the Applicants confirmed that he had responded to the preliminary objection filed by the Counsel to the 2nd Respondent.
The soft spoken Federal Judge, on that ground allowed for an adjournment. He however stated that the substantive suit and the preliminary objections filed by the Respondents to the suit will be heard together on the next adjourned date.
A coalition of concerned groups had sued the organizers of Big Brother Naija sometime in 2019 with claims that the television show promotes gross obscenity and damages the character of the Nigerian youth.
Multi Choice Nig. Ltd, National Broadcasting Commission and the Federal Republic of Nigeria are the respondents in the suit. The coalition of the concerned groups are asking the court to declare among others, that ‘the sexual perversity, eroticism, sucking of bottom, masturbation and gross obscenity displayed on the TV Reality Show called Big Brother Nigeria of Big Brother Naija, violate section 17(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The coalition seeks an order of the court to ban subscription, promotion, marketing, advertising and airing of the TV show in Nigeria. Part of the exhibit provided by the applicants is a sheet of paper with pictures of women revealing sensitive parts of their body which the group classified as nude and grossly obscene.
Four groups (the Applicants) which formed the coalition are the following –
- Aside Incorporated Trustees of Project for Human Development
- Incorporated Trustees of Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH)
- Trustees of Association of Concerned Mothers
- Trustees of Muslim Rights Concern Association
The applicants are seeking amongst others, an order of court to declare that the sexual perversity, eroticism, sucking of bottom, masturbation and gross obscenity being displayed on the TV reality show called Big Brother Naija are damaging the character of young Nigerians, and are therefore praying the court for a perpetual injunction, restraining the first respondent (Multi Choice Limited) whether by themselves, their agents or privies or otherwise howsoever from further soliciting for subscription to the show or promoting, marketing, advertising or airing of same anywhere in Nigeria.
In a paragraph of an affidavit in support of the motion on notice sworn to by a member of one of the group, Elizabeth Ojiabor, she averred that “the housemates of 2018 episode of BBNaija, most of whom were unmarried young men and women took their bath together, slept together, had sex together, masturbated together, sucked bottom together and so forth under the beam of the TV camera and before TV viewers.“Thousands of young Nigerians, who watched the 2018 episode of BBNaija were disgusted with bits of sexual perversity and obscene content, which is a violation of National Broadcasting Commission Code.”
Having ordered that all necessary processes should be before the court by the next date, Justice Liman adjourned the matter for the hearing of the suit (an Originating Application) and other applications to the 16th of March 2020.