A Lagos Federal High Court has been asked to commit to prison, the Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Dr Aminu Maida, and the Chief Executive Officers of the telecommunication companies in the country, for alleged disobedience to a court order that stopped them from deactivating sim cards that were not linked to National Identification Number (NIN).

A Lawyer and human rights activist, Olukoya Ogungbeje, at the resumed sitting on Wednesday, urged the court that to be committed to prison alongside Dr Maida are Mr Karl Olutokun Toriola, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria; Mr Karl Cruz, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Nigeria; Dr Micheal Adenuga Jr, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Globacom; Mr Juergen Peschel, Managing Director and Chef Executive Officer, 9 MOBILE; and Mr Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria.

It would be recalled that Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa, on February 22, 2024, restrained Dr Maida, NCC, and other telecommunication service providers, from going ahead with the then-proposed deactivation and barring of sim cards that are not linked to NIN. Justice Lewis-Allagoa made the order, while delivering judgement in suit number FHC/L/CS/677/22, filed by the Lawyer against the alleged contemnors.

During the pendency of the suit, none of the alleged contemnors filed any counter or objection to the suit.

However, due to the alleged failure and refusal of all the contemnors to comply with the court’s order and judgement, Ogungbeje filed both Form 48 (notice of consequences of disobedience to court orders/ruling) and Form 49 (notice to show cause why order of committal should not be made) before the court presided over by Justice Ibrahim Ahmad Kala, asking the court to commit the alleged contemnors to prison, for disobeying a court order.

Ogungbeje, while moving both Form 48 and Form 49 on Wednesday, told the court that the motion is pursuant to Section 72 of the Sheriffs And Civil Process Act; Order 35 Rules 1, 2(1)(2) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rule 2019; Order IX Rules 13(1)(2) of the (Judgement Enforcement) Rules; Order 26 Rule of the Federal High Court Procedure Rules 2019, and under the inherent jurisdiction of the Honourable Court Preserved By Section 6(6),(A)(B) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Lawyer, therefore, asked the court for the following reliefs: “a declaration that the contemnors sought to be committed are bound to obey and comply with the Court Order granted on the 22nd of February, 2024 in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/677/2022, between Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje v Federal Government of Nigeria & Ors, against the contemnors upon findings by this Honourable Court wherein the Court Order granted by this Honourable Court against the contemnors is still valid, subsisting and binding on the contemnors until it is set aside

“An order of this Honourable Court that ALL the contemnors SHALL be remanded, committed and incarcerated in the Nigerian Correctional Services Ikoyi Facility/prison custody until they purge themselves of contempt of court. And, For Such Order Or Orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.”

Ogungbeje supported the motion with a 21 paragraphed-affidavit.

Meanwhile, after listening to the Plaintiff/Applicant, Justice Kala ordered all the alleged contemnors to appear before the court and show cause why they should not be imprisoned.

The Judge has however, adjourned the hearing of committal applications against all the alleged contemnors to April 17, 2024.

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