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Barred Phone Lines:  Lagos Lawyer Demands N10Bn Damages from Telcos, NCC

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Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, Lagos-based activist and lawyer, has dragged telecommunication companies operating in Nigeria as well as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to a Lagos Federal High Court, challenging the recent barring of phone lines of citizens.

Barred Phone Lines:  Lagos Lawyer Demands N10Bn Damages from Telcos, NCC

Ogungbeje joined Dr. Aminu Maida, chief executive officer of NCC, and MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Airtel Networks Nigeria Ltd. and Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd. (EMTS 9 Mobile).

The lawyer, aside from seeking the order for award of N10 billion as general damages is also seeking the following reliefs: “A declaration that the act and action of further barring, restricting and deactivating of the applicant’s phone lines/SIM cards and the phone lines/SIM cards of Nigerian citizens by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th respondents, upon the directive of the 1st and 2nd respondents from 28th of February 2024 till date, despite a valid and subsisting order of court granted against the respondents is wrongful, illegal, unlawful, undemocratic, unconstitutional and thus prejudicial against applicant’s and other affected Nigerian citizens fundamental rights to fair hearing as enshrined under Section 36 of the 1399 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“A declaration that the respondents being creations and creatures of law are subject to the court of law and the judicial powers of the courts of law and under a legal duty and constitutional obligation to obey valid and subsisting order of court as enshrined under Section 6 (6) (b) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“An order setting aside the entire directive and all its consequential effects in connection with the subject matter of this suit issued by the 1st and 2nd respondents to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th respondents having been made in gross violation of a valid and subsisting order of court.

“An order compelling the respondents to jointly and severally to immediately activate, debar, unlock, unblock and unrestrict the applicant’s phone lines/SIM cards and the phone lines/SIM cards of the affected Nigerian citizens forthwith.

“An order compelling the respondents to jointly and severally tender a public apology to the applicant and other affected Nigerian citizens and to pay the sum of N10 billion only as general and exemplary damages for the prejudicial, wrongful and unconstitutional action of the respondents and the inconvenience, damages and injury caused the applicant and other affected Nigerian citizens in flagrant violation of a valid and subsisting order of court.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents jointly and severally, whether by themselves, their agents, officers, officials, members, servants, ministries, organs, agencies or privies or anybody deriving authority from them by whatever name called from barring, restricting and of deactivating the applicant’s and other affected Nigerian citizens, phones lines/ SIM cards or taking any step, action, further step or action or untoward action or proceedings against the applicant and other affected Nigerian citizens on any fact connected with or related to the facts of this case.”

The motion which is supported with 33 paragraphs affidavit, according to the lawyer, is pursuant to Sections 36 and 46 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria; Order II Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009 and under the court’s inherent jurisdiction imbued by Section 6 (6)(B) of constitution of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.

He also listed the following grounds upon which the reliefs were sought: “That there has been grave constitutional infraction perpetrated by the respondents against the applicant and other law abiding Nigerian citizens.

“That on the 22nd of February 2024, the court of law granted an order restraining the respondents from barring, deactivating and or restricting any phone lines/SIM cards of the applicant and Nigerian citizens.

“That the respondents have took the law into their hands by barring, deactivating and restricting the phone lines/SIM cards property of the applicant and other Nigerian citizens upon directive by the 1st and 2nd respondents despite a valid and subsisting order of court granted against the respondents on the 28th of February 2024.

“That the applicant has a constitutional right to fair nearing and right to own property guaranteed by the constitution.

“That the actions of the respondents have overreached the order of court and thus prejudicial against the applicant’s right to fair hearing.

Hence, it is not in accordance with due process of law. “That the act and action of the respondents is clearly wrongful, illegal, unconstitutional and prejudicial against the applicant’s right to fair hearing.

“That the respondents are creations and creatures of law and thus must act within the limit of the law.

“The respondents have no right to take the law into their own hands and that the constitutional safeguards to persons alleged to have committed any offence are sacrosanct and must be jealously guarded by the court.

“That the applicant has his fundamental rights protected and guaranteed under the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“That the applicant has the right under Section 46 of the 1999 constitution to approach the court for redress for the breach of his rights. And that the applicant is entitled to the reliefs sought in this case.”

The lawyer in his affidavit stated that his fundamental right to fair hearing and the rights of millions of Nigerian citizens guaranteed under Sections 36 of the constitution have been and is being violated by the respondents.

“That based on the above, he has filed this suit for himself and in public interest pursuant to the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement procedure) Rules 2009.

“That he is the telephone subscriber of the respondents with phone numbers/lines (09139128873) and (08027208563), 08055382155, 08090220200, respectively. And that sometimes in January 2024, the respondents threatened in barring, deactivating and restricting the phone lines of Nigerian citizens whose phones lines are not linked with the National Identity Number (NIN).

“That he immediately challenged the action of the respondents culminating to the valid and subsisting court order granted on the 22nd of February 2024, restraining the respondents from barring, deactivating and restricting my phone lines and the phone lines of Nigerian citizens.

“That surprisingly, while daring the court, the first and second respondents threatened to go ahead with the act and action of barring, deactivating and restricting of phones despite a valid and subsisting court order restraining the respondents.

And that to his utmost shock, on the 28th of February 2024, he woke up only to discover that his phone lines have been barred, deactivated and restricted by the second to sixth respondents, based on the mere directive of the first and second respondents despite a subsisting order of court.

“That act and action of the second to sixth respondents in barring, deactivating and restricting his phone lines and that of Nigerian citizens upon a mere directive by the first respondent without any order of court and despite a valid and subsisting court order have caused me great loss of business opportunities, embarrassment, untold hardship, discomfort and inconvenience and hampered my business as a legal practitioner and businessman.

“That he immediately contacted his solicitors, who wrote letters to the respondents demanding a prompt reversal of their illegal act and action having been carried out without recourse to due process of law.

But the respondents have failed and refused to reply or respond to his solicitors letters till date.

“That the act and action of the respondents of restricting, barring, deactivating the phone lines of millions of Nigerian citizens is a clear brazen act of undermining the court of law and its judicial powers and thus prejudicial against their rights to fair hearing.

And that the act and action of barring, blocking deactivating and restricting my phone lines by the respondents despite a valid and subsisting court order is clearly wrongful and prejudicial against my rights and the rights of Nigerian citizens to fair hearing and right to own property.” However, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

 

 

 


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Telecom

Zipline Achieves One Millionth Delivery Milestone

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Zipline, the leading force in drone logistics delivery, has reached a monumental achievement with its one-millionth delivery to customers, signifying a significant leap forward in the logistics delivery sector. This historic milestone was marked by the delivery of two bags of IV fluid from a Zipline distribution center in Ghana to a local health facility.

Renowned for its innovative approach to designing, building, and operating autonomous delivery drones, Zipline’s zero-emission technology has garnered acclaim, covering over 70 million commercial miles across four continents.

Backed by investments surpassing several millions of dollars from notable supporters like Sequoia Capital, a16z, and Google Ventures, Zipline has firmly established itself as a disruptive leader in the industry. CEO Keller Rinaudo emphasizes the company’s commitment to key markets such as healthcare, quick commerce, and food delivery, envisioning a future where Zipline achieves 1 million deliveries per day.

“The three areas where the incentive really makes the most sense today are health care, quick commerce, and food,” underscoring Zipline’s commitment to partnering with top brands and institutions to transform the future of logistics using autonomous drones –  Keller Rinaudo Cliffton.

In Africa, Zipline has made a profound impact, forging significant partnerships across the continent. In Ghana alone, which accounts for about 54% of the one-millionth delivery milestone, Zipline’s collaboration with the government and health ministry has been pivotal. Since its inception, Zipline has completed over 540,000 drone delivery flights across Ghana, encompassing the delivery of crucial supplies, including 3,566,500 units of vaccines, 2,825,210 units of medical products, 14,807 units of blood products, and 18,289 units of animal health products. These deliveries have directly impacted the lives of over 17 million Ghanaians across 13 regions, saving 6,014 lives through emergency deliveries, including blood products and snake antivenom since 2019.

Beyond mere statistics, the company has facilitated the delivery of 12.2 million vaccine doses, including 2.8 million Covid-19 vaccines, leading to a 21% increase in vaccination coverage and a 44% reduction in missed opportunities to vaccinate in Ghana. These efforts have potentially saved 727 lives due to increased vaccination coverage. Additionally, Zipline’s infrastructure expansion in Ghana, with six distribution centers strategically located across the country, has enabled swift and efficient on-demand drone delivery services.

Not only this, the technology has facilitated the vaccination of 104,000 cattle against Anthrax in northern Ghana, safeguarding both human and animal lives. Such interventions have also extended to the agricultural sector, where 10.4 million doses of poultry vaccines have been delivered to poultry farmers nationwide, combating diseases such as Newcastle disease, Fowl pox, and Gumboro.

But Zipline’s impact in Africa extends far beyond Ghana’s borders. Operating in Rwanda, Kenya, Côte D’Ivoire, and Nigeria, the company has become a beacon of hope for healthcare accessibility and disease prevention. In Rwanda, Zipline serves as a lifeline, delivering 75% of the country’s blood supply outside of Kigali, drastically reducing maternal mortality rates due to postpartum hemorrhage by 88%. Additionally, the company’s deliveries of agricultural products have elevated farmers’ fertility rates by 10% compared to the national average.

In Kenya, Zipline’s collaborations with the Elton John AIDS Foundation have facilitated the delivery of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment products, empowering individuals to manage their health effectively. Similarly, in Nigeria, Zipline’s expansive coverage encompasses over 500 health facilities in Kaduna, more than 350 in Cross River State, and 200 in Bayelsa. Teaming up with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Zipline focuses on reaching children in remote regions, ensuring equitable access to life-saving immunizations.

Zipline’s adaptive approach and tailored delivery services reflect its commitment to meeting the diverse needs of populations and sectors. The achievement of the one millionth delivery milestone underscores its dedication to enhancing healthcare outcomes and addressing societal needs across Africa. As Zipline continues to innovate and expand its reach, it is poised to shape the future of healthcare delivery on the continent and beyond.

 

 

 


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Telecom

Telcos Record N27Bn Loss from Damaged Fibre Cables

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Repairs and revenue losses from damaged cables are estimated to have cost Nigeria’s telecom industry almost N27bn ($23m) in 2023, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg.

Telcos Record N27Bn Loss from Damaged Fibre Cables

MTN Nigeria, the biggest wireless operator in Africa’s most-populous nation, and Airtel Africa Plc bore the brunt of the costs, the documents show.

MTN suffered more than 6,000 cuts on its fiber cable last year, the documents show.

On Feb. 28, a cut in its network in three different locations by a road construction firm, an oil serving company, and someone burning rubbish in a manhole meant customers faced more than five hours of data and voice outages.

The operator relocated 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) of vulnerable fiber cables between 2022 and 2023, at a cost of more than N11bn —enough to build 870 kilometers of new fiber lines in areas without coverage.

Broadband fibre optic cables form the backbone of modern communication infrastructure, enabling the high-speed data transmission that underpins a wide range of personal, business, and societal activities.

On several occasions, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator, has acknowledged this challenge and expressed willingness to work on measures to address it.

These measures include stricter regulations to deter vandalism and improved collaboration between telcos and government agencies responsible for construction activities.

According to the NCC, the telecom sector will make up more than a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product by the end of 2027, up from 13.5 per cent in the third quarter of last year.


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Telecom

NCAIR Relaunch: Pantami, Tijani Fight for Credit

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Isa Pantami, former minister of Communications and Digital Economy, has voiced his discontent over the relaunch of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) by Bosun Tijani, his successor.

Isa Pantami, former minister of Communications and Digital Economy,

Tijani announced the revitalization of NCAIR, highlighting enhancements in its capacity and partnerships with global tech firm Cisco.

However, Pantami took to social media to assert that NCAIR was already established during his tenure in November 2020, dubbing it “the first of its kind in Africa” and emphasizing its effectiveness in training numerous Nigerians.

Tijani responded by detailing the new initiatives accompanying the relaunch, including increased computing infrastructure, dedicated research labs, and remote connectivity for AI hubs across the country. He also unveiled outcomes from the Ministry’s National AI Workshop, such as the country’s first Multilingual Large Language Model and partnerships aimed at accelerating AI development projects of national significance.

The exchange between Pantami and Tijani underscores ongoing efforts to advance AI research and application in Nigeria while navigating questions of continuity and leadership transition within the Ministry.

 


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