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Lawyer sues FG, others over NIN, SIM linkage directive

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Malcolm Omirhobo

Human rights lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo has sued the federal government and 10 others at the Federal High Court, Lagos for allegedly coercing Nigerians to link their phone numbers with the National Identity Number (NIN), without complying with the COVID-19 protocols. 
   
The other respondents in the suit are the Attorney General of Nigeria; Minister of Communications and Digital Economy; Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC); the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC); DG NIMC; National Information Technology  Development Agency (NITDA); MTN Nigeria Communications Plc; GLOBACOM Limited; AIRTEL Networks Limited (AIRTEL NIGERIA) and the Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited, EMTS 9 Mobile. 
   
The applicant, who said he is suing for himself and the Nigerian public filed the action based on the fundamental rights enforcement provisions enshrined in the 1999 constitution. 
   
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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.
  
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 argued that the directive led over 150,000,000 Nigerians besieging the various 5th respondent’s (NIMC) offices nationwide in breach of COVID-19 protocols, while trying to comply with the said directives and in the process exposed themselves to the likelihood of contracting Corona virus, which may ultimately, likely kill them. 
   
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Omirhobo therefore prayed the court to declare such decisions illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
   
He prayed the court to declare that: “The decision of 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, which led to the fear, tension and apprehension of the applicant and Nigerians of the likelihood of losing their telephone lines if they fail to meet up with the ultimatum and thereby having their fundamental right to private and family life, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to moveable property violated by the respondents their servants, agents and/or privies and therefore illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.” 
   
He insisted that the directive to make the presentation of NIN a condition-precedent for the retrieval of lost and/or damaged telephone lines is a violation of the fundamental right of Nigerians and therefore illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
   
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He asked the court to make an order for the enforcement of 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 of Nigerians.
   
Apart from seeking that they be restrained from further violating the rights of Nigerians, the lawyer is praying the court to compel the respondents to resume the sale of new SIM cards, replace lost or damaged sim cards to Nigerians as well as issue a public apology to the applicant and the public. 
   
The applicant also prayed for a perpetual injunction, restraining the respondents and their agents from embarrassing, coercing, bullying, harassing, intimidating, tormenting, torturing, dehumanizing, debasing, frustrating and unduly panicking the Nigerian citizens under the guise of linking NIN to SIM cards or for any reason whatsoever. 
  
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