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BREAKING: Court restrains Telecoms from barring SIMs not linked to NIN

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of the Federal High Court in Lagos has given a directive to telecom companies in Nigeria, instructing them not to deactivate or block any SIM card or phone number that hasn’t been linked to the National Identification Number (NIN) by their customers.

This ruling came in response to a suit filed by lawyer Olukoya Ogungbeje, who sought to halt the enforcement of the NIN linkage, citing infringement on his fundamental rights.

In the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/667/23, Ogungbeje 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.

Specifically, the lawyer requested an injunction pending appeal, restraining all respondents from enforcing the judgment or further barring, deactivating, or restricting any SIM cards or phone lines of Nigerian citizens, 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, which was opposed by Ogungbeje, 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