A federal High Court in Lagos State has barred the Federal Government from blocking SIM cards not linked to National Identification Numbers next month.
The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy had, through the Nigerian Communications asked operators to block all SIM cards not linked to NIN by April 9, 2021. This deadline had caused many Nigerians to gather offices of NIN without adhering to the COVID-19 protocols. However, Mr Monday Ubani, a former second National Vice-president of the NBA and human rights lawyer, filed an originating motion and asked court to stop the Nigerian Communications Commission from disconnecting all SIM Cards not linked to NIN.
The first to fourth defendants in the suit are the Federal Government, AGF, the NCC and the Minister of Communications and digital economy. Ubani sought four reliefs including an order that the two-week ultimatum is inadequate and will not only cause him hardship but will also infringe on his fundamental right to freedom of speech and right to own property as provided under sections 39(1) and ,44(1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended).
He also sought an order of the court extending the deadline. Delivering judgement on march 23, 2021, Justice Onyetenu, ordered that the deadline be extended by two months.
The judge further declared that in respect to COVID-19 pandemic and the exacerbating cases in Nigeria presently, the deadline given to over 200 million Nigerians to register their SIM cards with NIN, will lead to a rush, thereby resulting to NIN registration center being crowded by Nigerian citizens subjecting them to the possibility of contracting the virus COVID-19.