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Nigerian Lawyer demands $6m damages from Telecoms firms for barring phone lines



Human rights lawyer and campaigner, Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, on Monday filed a suit before a Federal High Court Lagos against telecommunications companies over recent barring of phone lines.

Joined as respondents in the suit are the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Aminu Mada and MTN Nigeria Communications Plc.

The applicants also named Airtel Networks Nigeria Ltd; Globacom Ltd and Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd. (EMTS 9 Mobile) as other responders.

Ogungbeje in his affidavit, averred that sometime in January, the respondents had threatened to bar, or deactivate mobile lines of Nigerians whose phone lines were not linked with their National Identification Number (NIN).

He averred that he had proceeded to court and obtained an order on Feb. 22, restraining the respondents from barring or deactivating the phone lines of Nigerians, pending determination of the suit following this threat.



To his amazement, he discovered that his mobile lines, as well as those of many Nigerians had been barred by the respondents on February 28 in defiance to a subsisting court order.

The applicant therefore sought a declaration that the act by the respondents in barring and deactivating the lines of Nigerians from February 28 till date, inspite of a subsisting court order, is wrongful and illegal.

He is also seeking a declaration that the respondents being a creation of law, are subject to the court of law and its judicial powers, and are under an obligation to obey same.

He consequently, seeks an order, setting aside the entire directives, restricting the phone lines of Nigerians.

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The applicant also wants an order directing the respondents to immediately unlock and unrestrict the phone lines of affected Nigerians.

He is claiming the sum of 10 billion Naira (about 6 million US Dollars) against the telecom companies, as exemplary damages for their unlawful restrictions on phone lines of Nigerians.

He also wants an order of perpetual injunction restraining the responders from taking further steps or action against such affected citizens in relation to the facts of the case.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the new suit.

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