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Court adjourns Ubani’s suit against SIM registration to February 15  

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Onyekachi Monday Ubani


A Federal High Court, Lagos has adjourned till Monday February 15, 2021 further proceedings in the suit filed by human rights lawyer and former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja, Monday Ubani, challenging the SIM registration process.

When the matter came up before the court in January, the applicant’s counsel Mr Joseph Igwe, informed the court that all the respondents in the matter have been served since December, 2020. He was asked to move his client’s application, which he did and the matter was adjourned to February 2 for judgment.

However, one of the respondents suddenly rushed to court on that date slated for judgment to plead that they be allowed to come in to argue that the applicant has no locus standi and has not complied with pre-action notice as required by the NCC Act.

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The court accommodated their processes but warned that all parties must be served timeously, while Mr Ubani, the applicant was mandated to respond to the preliminary objection within 48 hours. Hearing and judgment of the case was then fixed for February 8 and later 15, 2021.

Ubani had sued the federal government at the Federal High Court, Lagos to halt the two weeks given to Nigerians to register their SIM cards with National Identity Number (NIN) as this will create severe hardship and infringe on their fundamental rights.
   
The other respondents in the suit are the Attorney General of Nigeria; Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).
  
The applicant, who said he is suing for himself and the Nigerian public filed the action, based on the fundamental rights enforcement provisions embedded in the 1999 constitution.
   
He wants the court to declare that Nigerians are entitled to the fundamental right to life, dignity of human person, right to private and family life, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to moveable property.

The lawyer is asking the court to declare that the respondents’ coercion of the applicant and Nigerians without themselves first complying with the COVID-19 protocols and guidelines is a violation of the fundamental right to life of Nigerians and therefore illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.

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According to him, the threat by the respondents to disconnect the telephone lines of Nigerians, who fail to link their NIN to their SIM cards within a very short, impracticable and unreasonable timeline is a violation of the fundamental right to life of the applicant and Nigerians.
 
He wants the court to halt the two weeks ultimatum given by the 1st, 3rd and 4th respondents and extend the deadline for the registration of SIM cards with NIN for at least one year or to such period of time for himself and millions of other Nigerians to register safely without any rush that might result to avoidable loss of lives and injuries.
 
The applicant said himself like so many other Nigerians, have till date not gotten NIN despite several attempts as there are few NIN registration centres available, and most times the registration officials would complain of either network problems or lack of power supply to enable them function effectively.

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