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Ruling: Telecom Companies Prohibited from Deactivating Lines of Subscribers Without NIN

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In a recent decision, a Federal High Court in Lagos has issued a directive preventing telecom operators from disconnecting any phone line or SIM card that is not linked to the National Identification Number (NIN) of the subscriber.

The presiding judge, Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa, has ordered that the telecom companies refrain from taking such actions as of February 22, 2024.

Justice Lewis-Allagoa made this ruling in response to a request for restraining orders filed by a human rights advocate, Olukoya Ogungbeje.

As part of the lawsuit, Ogungbeje brought charges against the federal government, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister of Justice, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, and Airtel Networks Nigeria Limited.

Ogungbeje sought an injunction pending an appeal, restraining all the respondents collectively or individually from enforcing the judgment in any manner and from further deactivating, barring, or restricting any SIM cards or phone lines of Nigerian citizens, as scheduled for February 28, 2024, or any other set date, until his appeal is heard and determined by the Court of Appeal against the ruling issued on May 8, 2023, by Justice Lewis-Allagoa.

The request cited 10 grounds, including the petitioner’s contention that in April 2022, a lawsuit was filed against the respondents, contesting their actions that undermined the authority of the court and the legal system of Nigeria, thereby violating the fundamental rights of the applicant.

Additionally, the application highlighted that the court, in its verdict on May 8, 2023, dismissed the applicant’s lawsuit and that the appellant exercised his constitutional right to appeal by submitting a notice on July 26, 2023, against the court’s judgment.

Furthermore, the appeal was lodged against the entirety of the decision outlined in the court’s judgment.

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