Federal High Court Halts Telecom Operators’ Plan to Deactivate Unlinked SIM Cards

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In response to a lawsuit filed by Lagos-based lawyer Olukoya Ogungbeje, Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of the Federal High Court in Lagos issued an interim injunction preventing telecommunication companies in Nigeria from disabling unregistered SIM cards ahead of the planned deadline set for February 28, 2024.

Ogungbeje sought the injunction pending the outcome of his appeal at the Court of Appeal, arguing that the action would violate his fundamental human rights and those of other Nigerians who have yet to complete the process of linking their SIM card numbers to their National Identity Numbers (NIN).

The court granted the injunction based on several arguments presented by Ogungbeje, including the fact that he had appealed the previous judgment dismissing his case against the telecom providers, and that there existed a “high degree of success” in his appeal.

Despite the injunction, no representatives from the respondents—the federal government, attorney general, MTN Nigeria Communications PLC, and Airtel Networks Ltd—filed counterarguments during the hearing.

Lewis-Allagoa emphasized that the injunction applied only until the resolution of Ogungbeje’s appeal at the higher court.

This means that if the Court of Appeal rules differently, the injunction could be lifted, allowing telecom operators to proceed with the deactivation of unlinked SIM cards.

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