MTN, Etisalat ask court to dismiss subscribers’ suit


Telecommunications companies, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and Etisalat Nigeria, have asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss a suit filed against them by aggrieved subscribers whose lines were allegedly wrongfully deactivated.

Airtel Nigeria and Globacom Nigeria are also joined as defendants in the suit filed as a class action by two Lagos-based lawyers, Ayodeji Olorunkunle and Oluyinka Oyeniji and seven others.

The plaintiffs sued for the enforcement of their fundamental rights preserved by sections 34, 37, 42 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution.

They are seeking a declaration that the defendants had mutilated their social status by not only wrongfully deactivating their lines but by also leaving voice prompts for callers, stating that “their lines have been barred due to incomplete information.”

The aggrieved subscribers also accused the telecoms companies of “trading in their phone numbers (without their consent) and relaying their bio data to marketing companies,” which inundate them with unsolicited calls and text messages.

They are seeking, among other reliefs, an order of the court mandating the telecoms companies to reactivate and restore their lines to them and to compensate each of them and other members of their class with N1m each.

They also want the court to perpetually restrain the telecoms companies from further trading in their lines by giving their bio data to marketing companies, which place and send unwanted calls and text messages to them.

Besides, the aggrieved subscribers are also seeking published apology in five national dailies to run for one week, in addition to a claim of N10m, being the cost of filing the suit.

But MTN, in its preliminary objection, urged the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit for non-compliance with Order IV Rule 1 of the fundamental human rights enforcement action which stipulates that such an application must be heard within seven days of its filing.

Counsel for MTN, Ike Imo, also argued that the subscribers failed to establish in their affidavit that MTM indeed breached their rights, as they claimed.

In its counter-affidavit, MTN claimed that its decision to deactivate certain lines followed an instruction given to it by the Nigerian Communications Commission to disconnect all phone lines which were not accurately registered.

Etisalat also described the suit as an abuse of court processes.
Source: Punch 26 November 2015