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NIN SIM link-up: Court bars network providers from deactivating customer lines

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By Felix Kuyinu

The Federal High Court in Lagos has stalled the movement by telecommunication providers in Nigeria to bar subscribers’ SIM lines that is yet to be linked to the National Identification Number, NIN.

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa gave the restraining order at the Lagos courthouse having presided over a suit filed by a lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, seeking to stop the move that infringed on his fundamental rights.

Ogungbeje, in a suit numbered FHC/L/CS/667/23, asked the court for an injunction pending appeal, restraining all the network providers jointly or severally, whether by themselves or their agents, outlets, agencies, privies, officials, servants, men, parastatals, units, organs, or anybody or person, however so called, from taking any step or action capable of enforcing the judgment in any way and from further outright barring, deactivating and or restricting any SIM cards or his phone Lines, or of any Nigerian Citizen, slated for February 28, 2024, or any other scheduled date, pending the hearing and determination of his appeal at the Court of Appeal of Nigeria, against the judgment of this Honourable Court delivered on May 8, 2023.

Ogungbeje informed the court that his motion on notice is premised under Order 26 Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019; Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended); Section 6 (6)(B) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and under the court’s inherent jurisdiction.

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He listed ten grounds for seeking the application, which include; “That sometimes in April 2022, the Appellant/Applicant herein took out an Originating Summons against the Respondents challenging the action of the Respondents in undermining the judicial powers of the Court and the Nigerian legal system and thus infringing on the applicant’s fundamental rights

“That this Honourable Court, in a well-considered Judgment delivered on the 8th of May 2023, dismissed the appellant/applicant originating summons.

“The appellant/applicant, dissatisfied with the Judgment, has exercised his constitutional right of appeal by lodging a Notice of Appeal against the Judgment of this Honourable Court on the 26th of July 2023 by the lower Court.

“That the Appellant/applicant’s appeal is against the whole decision contained in the Judgment of this Honourable Court.

“That the Respondents are aware of the appellant/applicant’s appeal to the Court of Appeal of Nigeria as the Respondents have since been duly served with the Appellant/Applicant’s Notice of Appeal

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“That despite the pendency of the appellant/applicant’s appeal, efforts are in top gear by the respondents, specifically on the 28th of February 2024, to ensure further and outright barring, deactivating and restricting of SIM cards and Phone lines of the Applicant and that of Nigerian citizens.

“That the appellant/applicant appeal to the Court of Appeal of Nigeria “has a high degree of success against the Respondents

“There is the need to preserve the rest subject matter of the appeal pending the hearing and determination of the Appellant/Applicant appeal at the Court of Appeal of Nigeria.

“That the appellant/applicant is desirously interested in diligently pursuing the instant appeal that has raised a novel and recondite issue substantially jurisprudential constituting an exceptional circumstance in which this Honourable Court can grant an application of this nature.

“That the Court has the power and jurisdiction to grant application of this nature in the interest of Justice,” he stated.

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Justice Lewis-Allagoa, in his ruling after perusing the court file acceded to the lawyer’s request and restrained the telecom operators in the country from barring, deactivating and or restricting any SIM cards or his phone Lines or of any Nigerian Citizen stated for 28 of February 2024.

He also ruled that his order subsists till the hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the lawyer.

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