Court Stops MTN, Airtel, Other Telecommunication Companies from Blocking Lines Without NIN

Court Stops MTN, Airtel, Other Telecommunication Companies from Blocking Lines Without NIN

  • A Federal High Court in Lagos has barred telecommunication companies from deactivating mobile lines not linked to NIN
  • The court said the telecom companies and other respondents should desist from the action pending the determination of the case
  • The lawyer said the order by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) infringes on fundamental human rights’s Pascal Oparada has reported Tech, Energy, Stocks, Investment and the Economy for over a decade.

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of the Federal High Court in Lagos has stopped telecommunication companies in Nigeria from deactivating or barring mobile lines or SIM cards not linked to the owner's National Identification Number (NIN).

Justice Lewis-Allagoa said while ruling on a suit filed by a legal practitioner, Olukoya Ogungbeje, seeking to stop the move that violated his fundamental human rights.

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Court blocks telecommunication companies from deactivating SIM cards Credit: ra-photos Images for illustration purposes only. Depicted persons have no relationship to events described in the article.
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Why did the court issue the order?

The lawyers in the suit, FHC/L/CS/667/23, joined the Federal Government of Nigeria, the attorney general of the Federation and minister of Justice, MTN Nigeria and Airtel Nigeria as respondents.

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Ogungbeje had asked the court for an injunction pending an appeal, retraining the respondents from carrying out the directive by themselves or their agents.

Justice Lewis-Allagoa also ruled that his order subsists till the hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the lawyer.

Leadership reported that Ogungbeje had informed the court that his motion on notice is based on Order 26, Rule 1 of the Federal High Court 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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The lawyer listed ten grounds for seeking the application.

NCC orders telecom firms to deactivate lines

Earlier, reported that the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) asked all telecommunication companies to block subscribers’ lines not linked with the National Identity Number (NIN).

MTN Nigeria disclosed the directive in its corporate filing on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) dated Monday, December 18, 2023.

In the filing signed by its secretary, Uto Ukpana, the company said the NCC ordered a complete barring on all phone lines whose NINs are unverified.

According to the NCC, unlinked lines SIM cards still need to be linked with the National Identity Number (NIN).

The former minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had directed telcos to integrate SIM cards into the NIN database.

In April 2022, the Nigerian government directed telcos to bar outgoing calls on all unlinked lines. MTN said the new directive is an industry-wide order, requiring phones for which the subscribers still need to submit their NINs to be blocked on or before February 28, 2024.

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Nigerian telecom firm issues disconnection notice

A report stated that mobile network provider, 9mobile, had asked its customers to link their SIMs with their National Identification Number (NIN), saying all unlinked lines will be disconnected entirely starting February 29, 2024.

The company’s director of customer care, Ehimare Omoike, issued the warning in a statement released by the telecommunication company, adding that the action aligns with the directive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

According to reports, Omoike said that subscribers who do not comply with the directive will be unable to receive calls, be barred from accessing the internet, have no SMS or OTP, and not receive bank alerts.


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