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Court Restrains Telecom Operators from Deactivating Unlinked SIM Cards in Nigeria

by Thomaz Oseghale
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Court Restrains Telecom Operators from Deactivating Unlinked SIM Cards in Nigeria

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of the Federal High Court in Lagos has issued a restraining order against telecommunications operators in Nigeria.

The order prevents them from deactivating or barring any SIM card or phone line that has not been linked to the National Identification Number (NIN) by their subscribers. The ruling came in response to a suit filed by lawyer Olukoya Ogungbeje, who sought to halt the enforcement of the NIN linkage.

Ogungbeje argued that the requirement infringed upon his fundamental rights.

In the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/667/23, the lawyer named the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, and Airtel Networks Nigeria Limited as respondents.

Ogungbeje specifically requested an injunction pending appeal, which would restrain all respondents from enforcing the judgment or further barring, deactivating, or restricting any SIM cards or phone lines of Nigerian citizens.

This action was scheduled for February 28, 2024, or any other date, until his appeal at the Court of Appeal of Nigeria is heard and determined.

During the court proceedings, it was noted that none of the respondents had filed a counter to the motion in the suit.

However, a lawyer from the Federal Ministry of Justice requested more time to respond to the motion.

Ogungbeje opposed this request, citing the timely service of all processes to the parties involved.

After considering the arguments, Justice Lewis-Allagoa granted the lawyer’s request and restrained telecom operators from barring, deactivating, or restricting any SIM cards or phone lines of Nigerian citizens until the appeal is heard and determined.

Ogungbeje based his motion on various legal grounds, including constitutional provisions and the need to preserve the subject matter of the appeal pending its determination.

This article was updated 2 months ago

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