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SIM Deactivation: Court fixes Apr. 28 for hearing of N200m suit against MTN, Airtel

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Airtel, MTN are two of the leading telecommunication companies in Nigeria

A Lagos Federal High Court, has fixed April 28, 2022, for the hearing of N200 million suit filed by a lawyer, against two telecommunication firms, MTN Nigeria Communication Limited and Airtel Network Nigeria Limited, and two others, over alleged illegal SIMs deactivation.

The plaintiff, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, a lawyer cum activist, had dragged four respondents before the court over alleged illegal deactivation of his and about 72 million Nigerians’ SIM cards.

Others joined as respondents alongside MTN Nigeria Limited and Airtel Network Nigeria Limited, in the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/677/2022 are; Federal government of Nigeria and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice.

Ogungbeje had asked the court for an order compelling all the respondents to jointly and severally pay him the sum of N200 million, as general and exemplary damages for the inconvenience, damages and injury caused him and other affected Nigerian citizens, while also asking the court to compel the respondents to tender a public apology to him and other affected Nigerian citizens.

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He also asked for an order compelling the respondents, jointly and severally, to immediately activate, debar, unlock, unblock, unfreeze and open his phone lines/sim cards and that of over 72 million affected Nigerian citizens, for the purpose of out-going calls and other connected purposes forthwith.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, both MTN Nigeria Limited and Airtel Network Nigeria, were conspicuously absent and they were not represented by any legal team.

But counsel to FGN and AGF, Mrs. Abosede Ade-Obayomi, told the court that they were served with the hearing notice and that she had equally filed a counter to the suit.

However, efforts by the plaintiff to ensure the court hear the suit, was not accepted by the presiding judge, Justice Abimbola Awogboro, who after perusing the court file noted that notice was not issued to the two firms.

Responding, the plaintiff, Ogungbeje told the court that he issued the hearing notice to all the respondents, as directed by Justice Tijjani Ringim, who first presided over the matter as the vacation judge.

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However, Justice Awogboro while adjourning the matter to April 28, for hearing, ordered that a hearing notice be issued and served on MTN and Airtel Network Nigeria Limited.

In the suit, the lawyer is also asking the court for an order setting aside the directive and all its consequential effects in connection with the subject matter of this suit issued by the first and second respondents to the telecommunication firms, having been made in violation of due process of law.

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