NIN: UBANI SUES FG, ASKS COURT TO HALT DEADLINE

Fiery human rights activist and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has dragged the Federal Government to court over its directive to telecom networks to block all SIM cards that are not registered with the National Identity Numbers (NIN)

According to the court papers made available to CITY LAWYER and filed at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, Ubani is seeking an order of the court “halting the said two weeks ultimatum given by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to telecommunication operators to block all SIM Cards that are not registered with the National Identity Numbers (NIN).”

He is also praying the court to direct the respondents to “extend the deadline for the registration of SIM Cards with NIN for at least 1 year or to such period of time as the court may consider reasonable for the Applicant (and millions of other Nigerians) to be able to register their SIM Cards safely without any rush that might result to avoidable loss of lives and injuries.”

Aside from the Federal Government of Nigeria, other respondents are the Attorney General of the Federation, Nigerian Communications Commission and Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

The suit is brought under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 made by the Chief Justice of Nigeria pursuant to section 46(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

Ubani is also praying the court for “A DECLARATION that the two weeks (16th December, 2020 to 30th December, 2020) ultimatum given to telecommunications operators by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to block all Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards that are not registered with National Identity Number (NIN), is grossly inadequate and will not only work severe hardship, but will likely infringe on the fundamental rights of the Applicant (and millions of other Nigerians) to freedom of expression as guaranteed by section 39(1)(2) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as violate section 44(1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which prohibits the compulsory acquisition of right or interest over moveable property.”

The vocal public commentator is equally praying for a “DECLARATION that in view of the covid-19 pandemic and the rising cases in Nigeria presently, the two weeks deadline given by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to the Applicant and over 200 million Nigerians to register their SIM Cards with NIN, will lead to a rush, thereby resulting to clustering of the Applicant and other Nigerian citizens in a NIN registration centre, subjecting him to the possibility of easily contracting the covid-19 virus, and such will amount to a violation of his fundamental right to life as protected by section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”

Among the grounds for the suit are:

“That the Applicant is a lawyer, activist and social commentator on national issues. He uses his MTN SIM Card for business communication, social communication and interaction with other Nigerians through phone and online through the social media. Like millions of other Nigerians, the Applicant’s SIM Card enables him to exercise his fundamental right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Section 39(1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution, and blocking the Applicant’s SIM Card will violate his fundamental right over his SIM Card (moveable property) as guaranteed under section 44(1) of the 1999 constitution as amended.

“That the short period of two weeks given for the Applicant and millions of other Nigerians to register their SIM cards with NIN (failing which their SIM cards will be blocked) is unreasonably too short and impracticable in view of the large population of Nigerians and the slow rate of registration by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

“That the two weeks deadline will lead to a rush and clustering of the Applicant and other Nigerians in registration centre thereby subjecting him to possibility of Stamped and contracting COVID-19 virus, which will endanger his right to life as guaranteed by section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”

In a 21-paragraph affidavit deposed by Ubani in support of the suit, he stated as follows:

“That I am a Nigerian citizen who uses MTN (one of the telecommunication operators) Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card for all my business communication and social interactions, including surfing the net, sending and receiving emails, attending online zoom meetings and conferences, and interact with family, friends and fellow Nigerians on all social media platforms.

“That like so many other Nigerians, I have till date not gotten my NIN despite several attempts as there are few NIN registration centres available, and most times the registration officials would complain of either network problem or lack of power supply to enable them function effectively.

“That the two weeks ultimatum given by the defendants for the telecommunication operators to block the SIM of all Subscribers (including myself) who have not registered their SIM with NIN is grossly inadequate, and will not only create unnecessary panic and inconveniences but will also cause severe hardship and suffering to me and millions of Nigerians who like me have not been able to get our NIN due to no fault of ours.

“That the Respondents’ directive to telecommunications operators to block the SIM of every person who has not registered their SIM with NIN after 30th December, 2020, is not a well thought out decision as same is too sudden, and will cut me and millions of Nigerians off from communication, and deny me the use of my SIM card which is my personal property, thereby infringing on my right to freedom of expression, and my entitlement to own a medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinion, as guaranteed by sections 39(1)(2), and 44(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“That the 1st Respondent who has been fighting the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria since March 2020, and who has been advocating and enforcing social distancing did not avert her mind, when she and her agencies were taking such a decision, to the fact that COVID-19 is still present in Nigeria and cases of infected persons have been rising in recent time.

“That many prominent Nigerians have lost their precious lives as a result of not observing the social distancing, and other measures laid down by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to avoid contracting COVID-19.

“That the resolution/decision of the Respondents to the effect that December30, 2020 (two weeks) is the deadline for over 180 million Nigerians to register their SIM with NIN is reckless, inconsiderate and insensitive in view of the present reality in the country.

“That the Respondents before arriving at such resolution did not check to confirm the statistics of Nigerians that do not have NIN, which if they did, their resolution would have been different.

“That no doubt, trying to meet up with the said deadline will put me and millions of Nigerians in untold pressure, and same will lead to a rush and result to non observance of social distancing measures, consequent upon which contracting the COVID-19 virus will be inevitable, thereby endangering my right life and that of other Nigerians, which is guaranteed by section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“That it will be proper and reasonable for the Respondent to extend the deadline to at least 1 year, and within that period of extension make deliberate and conscious efforts towards properly sensitizing Nigerians, and putting in place massive registration outlets in every ward of the Federation with good working facilities to ensure that easy access to registration is made possible.

“That trying to enforce this policy in a period where I, as well as most Nigerians are gearing up for Christmas festivities may lead to stamped in the process of rushing to get registered, which could lead to unnecessary death and injuries, thereby violating section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That if the Court does not halt or order the Respondents to urgently halt their plans, this directive may result to unnecessary panic in the country which may lead to exploitation of vulnerable Nigerians, thereby causing more pain in an already pathetic situation.

“That I am aware that millions of other Nigerians are also uncomfortable, worried and complaining about the gross inadequacy of the two weeks ultimatum given by the Respondents to telecommunication operators to block all SIM not registered with NIN. As a matter of fact, the House of Representatives (that represent the people of Nigeria) has asked the 1st Respondent to extend the deadline for the provision of National Identification Number (NIN) by telecommunication service subscribers, describing the two weeks given to SIM card users by the 3rd Respondent to provide their NIN to service providers as grossly inadequate. This was reported by the Punchng.com, published on December 16, 2020. The said online report by Punch newspaper is attached herewith and marked Exhibit MOU2.”

According to CITY LAWYER sources, no date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.

APPEAL COURT JURIST, FALANA, AKPATA, NGIGE, OTHERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS BOOK LAUNCH

Leading jurists and human rights activists will on Thursday gather for the unveiling of a seminal book on human rights written by foremost human rights author and litigator, Chief Frank Agbedo.

Titled “Casebook on Human Rights Litigation in Nigeria: With Landmark Cases From Other Jurisdictions,” the event which will be held virtually is expected to be witnessed by the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mohammed L. Garba and the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba.

Others expected at the book presentation are the Chairman of Council of Legal Education (CLE), Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN; Lagos State Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN; Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata; fiery human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana SAN, and former President of Otu Oka-Iwu Lagos, Chief Chuks Ikokwu.

With renowned text writer, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu SAN as Book Presenter and The Guardian columnist, Mr. Sonnie Ekwowusi as Book Reviewer, others slated for the book presentation are Chief Babatunde Ogala and Mr. Yemi Akangbe (NBA Lagos Branch Chairman) as Guests of Honour;  corporate and commercial law guru, Mr. Mbanugo Udenze as Host and popular Bar Leader, Mrs. Tolani Edu as the Moderator. 

Available on AMAZON at https://www.amazon.com/Casebook-Human-Rights-Litigation-Nigeria/dp/6200313415, “This book painstakingly addresses the predicament of lawyers and judges in accessing relevant cases of interest, by providing and updating the practitioners with a comprehensive collection of (both current and locus classicus) reported cases mainly from decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, on all notable issues of law and procedure relating to human rights litigation in Nigeria.”

An announcement on the book presentation states as follows:

Team Nominees Limited is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Book Presentation of Case Book on Human Rights Litigation in Nigeria by Chief Frank Agbedo.

Date: Thursday 24th September, 2020 Time: 02:00 PM West Central Africa

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Leading human rights activist, MR. EBUN-OLU ADEGBORUWA SAN reviews the case of activist-lawyer Emperor Ogbonna and notes that his plight “highlights what the ordinary citizen goes through in the hands of agents of the State”

“Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law.”
                                                                  – Section 35 (1) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

After the right to life, the right to personal liberty is taken to be the most important of the all the rights granted under Chapter 4 of the Constitution. Without any shadow of doubt, the right to personal liberty is the one that is most abused, by those who are in power. Many suspects are languishing in various detention centres across the nation, without any hope for justice. It has been established that the majority of inmates in the various Correctional Centres in Nigeria are awaiting trial. It has become so easy for the law enforcement agencies, especially the police, to arrest and detain citizens at random, upon one alleged crime or the other. In some cases, they go beyond crime as the basis for arrest; cases involving civil financial obligations by the tenant are taken to the police by the landlord, and turned into a criminal complaint. Disputes over ownership of land also end up in the police station. In a particular case which I handled, the police officers were demanding for the survey plan of the land in order to determine the true owner thereof!

Gabriel Emperor Ogbonna is a Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist who has been in custody of the police and the DSS for months, despite court orders directing his release. He is based in Aba, Abia State. He has been in detention since March 24, 2020, having been arrested in his office by operatives of the Department of State Security, DSS and armed policemen. He was initially taken to the Abia State Police Command headquarters, where he was confronted with a petition written against him that he published falsehood against the Governor of Abia State to the effect that the latter swore an oath at the Ancient Harashima. He was eventually arraigned before the Magistrate’s Court and remanded in custody. The activist was later charged before the Federal High Court, Umuahia and was admitted to bail by the said court. Mr. Ogbonna perfected the conditions of his bail and was released from the Correctional Centre on April 28, 2020, but he was immediately arrested by the Abia State Director of DSS and thereafter transferred to Abuja. The story line is that the Abia State Government is allegedly behind his travails.

Mr Ogbonna was eventually tried at the Federal High Court, Umuahia in Abia State, wherein the said Court directed the production of Mr. Ogbonna but the order was flouted by the police and DSS, in Suit No. FHC/UM/CR/17/2020. Consequently, the Court, coram D.E. Osiagor, J., dismissed the charge against him and he was accordingly discharged, on June 26, 2020. Notwithstanding the said order, Mr. Ogbonna was not released. Mr. Ogbonna himself filed a civil suit, for the enforcement of his fundamental rights, in Suit No. FHC/UM/CS/40/2020, against the DSS. On June 29, 2020, the Court made the following orders, after taking arguments from counsel to the parties:

“1. That the 1st to 3rd Respondents are hereby ordered to immediately release the Applicant unconditionally or charge him only to a court of competent jurisdiction.
2. That the 1st-3rd Respondents are hereby restrained by themselves or through their agents, servants and privies from further harassing, re-arresting and detaining the Applicant over the facts of this matter.
3. That the 1st-3rd Respondents are hereby ordered to pay the sum of One Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira Only (N1,500,000:00) as damages for the two months detention of the Applicant without trial.”

From June 29, 2020 when this order was made by the Court, it is well over a month and Emperor Ogbonna is still in the unlawful custody of the DSS. We cannot continue to carry on in this fashion, as if the country has no laws governing its affairs. Government officials, especially members of the Executive arm of government, cannot become so lawless as to totally disregard the orders of a competent court of law, as that will be promoting anarchy and chaos. Section 287 (3) of the Constitution is so very clear on this matter:

“287 (3). The decisions of the Federal High Court, National Industrial Court, a High Court and of all other Courts established by this Constitution shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by other Courts of law with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Federal High Court, National Industrial Court, a High Court and those other Courts, respectively.”

There should be no further assurance required by the DSS for the release of Emperor Ogbonna other than the orders of the Federal High Court, Umuahia, reproduced above. Whereas it is proper and desirable for law enforcement agencies to do their best to investigate, detect and prosecute crimes, for the good of society, once the court has intervened however, by way of granting an order for the release of a citizen, then such an order must be respected and must not be subverted through devious means or by subterfuge. There is no other way to describe the conduct of the DSS in keeping Emperor Ogbonna in its custody after the Court has ordered his unconditional release other than plain dictatorship and executive brigandage. When we get to the stage whereby citizens beg the government to obey court orders and to respect the rule of law, then you know that lawlessness has taken its ugly root.

Not long ago, the President signed Executive Order No.10, wherein he granted autonomy to the judiciary. It is thus improper to claim to grant autonomy to the judiciary with one hand and then take it away with another through wilful disobedience of Court orders. I call upon the President to call the Director of DSS to order, in order to avoid another scenario of what happened in the case of Omoyele Sowore. Emperor Ogbonna’s attention is needed by his pregnant wife, he also has a precarious medical history, having suffered gunshot wounds from an attempted assassination upon his life in the past. With the health challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic, this is not the time to embark upon indiscriminate arrest and detention of citizens. Indeed, the government only recently directed that the Correctional Centres be decongested. The DSS must obey the order of court by releasing Emperor Ogbonna unconditionally and if there be any further allegations against him, he should be charged to court, in line with the requirements of the Constitution. Surely two wrongs cannot make anything right. There is no separate court established by law for the DSS and no trial can take place in the office of the Director of DSS. Thus, if the Court established by law says Emperor Ogbonna should be released, then he has to be released. This point cannot be negotiated at all.

All law enforcement agencies, including even the military, must willingly submit themselves to civilian authority, as we are not under military rule in Nigeria presently. The Courts were created under section 6 of the Constitution to adjudicate in disputes between persons and persons and between persons and the government. The criminal charge preferred against Emperor Ogbonna by the State has since been dismissed by the Court. In addition, the Court ordered that he should not be arrested or detained upon the same facts leading to his discharge. So, the question that the DSS must answer is whether whilst he has been in unlawful custody, Emperor Ogbonna has committed another offence to warrant his continued detention or even a fresh trial? The answer of course is a capital NO, which simply means that his current detention is illegal and a total disrespect to the authority and integrity of the court.

The plight of Emperor Ogbonna only highlights what the ordinary citizen goes through in the hands of agents of the State, as if a lawyer and an activist, who is well learned, conscious of his rights and privileges, is facing such persecution and hardship, then one can best imagine what the common man goes through, in all the police stations and other detention centres across Nigeria. This is why the struggle for the freedom of Emperor Ogbonna is one that must be undertaken by every lover of justice and human rights. The freedom and liberty of any individual should not be the subject of any oppressive negotiation with the State, in order to compel the citizen to abandon his avowed beliefs and principles.

Good enough that this is coming on the heels of the election of new national officers for the Nigerian Bar Association. It is a litmus test for the new NBA Exco to take the bull by the horn and mobilize lawyers and Nigerians to free Emperor Ogbonna. It will be a good baptism of fire, for the new NBA Exco to confront the DSS and insist on respect for the rule of law and obedience to the orders of the Courts in this and all other cases. It should not be possible ever again, for any lawyer or other citizen, to be kept in unlawful custody simply because he is considered to be in the opposition or has views which are intolerable to those who are in power. This has to stop.
The President cannot sit on the fence in this matter, as the DSS and indeed all other security agencies report directly to him. It is important that the President intervenes urgently to direct immediate compliance with the order of court for the release of Emperor Ogbonna. On a number of occasions the President has stated his preference for the rule of law, so this presents a good opportunity for him to put to practice, that which he preaches often. Let Ogbonna be released, immediately and unconditionally, as directed by the Court.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

COVID-19: LAGOS CJ, FALANA, ODINKALU, ADEGBORUWA, OJUKWU, OTHERS TO X-RAY HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Leading human rights activists will on Monday dissect the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on Nigeria’s human rights landscape.

Organized by the Human Rights Committee of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch, the virtual conference will especially spotlight human rights violations in the wake of efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic while framing the roadmap for human rights protection in the COVID-19 era. The theme of the conference is “COVID-19, Access to Justice and Human Rights Violations.” Time is 3 pm.

Among the lawyers and jurists who have confirmed their participation as speakers are the Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba; Lagos State Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN; Mr. Femi Falana SAN who will deliver a Keynote Address; Prof. Chidi Odinkalu who will speak on “COVID-19, Access to Justice and Human Rights Violations: The Role of Nigerian Bar Association,” and the Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr. Tony Ojukwu, who will speak on “COVID-19 and Human Rights Violations: Insights from the Field.”

Other confirmed speakers are Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa SAN who will x-ray the topic, “How Fair is Virtual Hearing in the COVID-19 era?” and Dr. Uju Agomoh, Executive Director, Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) who will tackle the topic, “Coronavirus, Correctional Centres and Rights of Awaiting Trial Inmates.” Renowned legal aid defence expert, Mr. Chino Obiagwu SAN will discuss “Coronavirus and Challenge of Legal Defence” while Mr. Muhammad Belgore SAN will contend with “Litigating Human Rights Cases in the COVID-19 Era.”

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu is expected to offer useful insights on the task of policing in the COVID-19 era as he discusses “Policing in the COVID -19 Era: Challenges and Prospects.”

The Host for the much anticipated virtual conference is NBA Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Yemi Akangbe while the Moderator is the Branch Vice Chairman & Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, Mr. Okey Ilofulunwa.

Facilitated by Messrs Olumide Babalola and Emeka Nwadioke, participants are expected to register for the virtual conference at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3RikvKB9SzGF-7fWpfdcYg or www.shorturl.at/fgo46.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

CABLE TV PROFITEERING MUST CEASE NOW – ADEGBORUWA

By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN

In this article, leading human rights activist, By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN argues that cable television service providers must change their billing system to a more humane model, urging the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to wake up to its regulatory duties.

It was like a movie, watching the proceedings of the Ad Hoc Committee set up by the House of Representatives, to probe the hike of subscription rates by cable television service providers. The Chairman of the said Committee, Hon Unyime Idem, took me back to my Aluta days at Obafemi Awolowo University (Great Ife), roaring like a lion and reeling out the will of the people of Nigeria with such vehemence, on these shylock entities called cable television companies. The Committee had summoned the lameduck Nigeria Broadcasting Commission, NBC, which has for years unleashed a monopoly upon Nigerians, to milk us dry, without effective statutory regulation. NBC was asked to explain why DSTV and other cable service providers have blatantly and arrogantly refused to introduce pay as you view to their customers. For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, let me restate the status quo of this broadcasting brouhaha.

The cable television service providers force their customers into a monthly regime of subscription, irrespective of the conditions of viewing, the quality of the service or even its availability. So, you pay for DSTV in your house for a whole month or a whole year, you pay for DSTV in your office, you pay for DSTV in your village, you pay for DSTV in your guest house in Abuja or anywhere else you have some presence. The cable television company keeps collecting money for dormant viewing or no viewing and keeps smiling to the bank everyday, upon the sweat and suffering of its customers. Not being God with the capacity to be omnipresent, a human being can only be at a single location at a given time. Whilst your television in the office is off at night or anytime you are not there, you keep paying for viewing nothing; when you travel outside Nigeria or you are away from your house or your office, you keep servicing the empty apartment through monthly or yearly payment. When you happen to pop in and you are ready to watch the television just may be once in a month, it would suddenly go off, due to bad weather, poor connection, thunderstorm or common rainfall, but you have paid to the company and you must keep paying. Thus, the situation with many Nigerians is that we are forced to subsidize the greed of the cable television service providers, which profit from services not rendered and they are not willing to change, taking this as some kind of windfall.

“All people of good conscience must commend the House of Representatives for this bold initiative, while we urge the Senate to join the crusade to free us from this commercial exploitation. How many more years does DSTV require to recoup capital since these many decades of extortion? This must not be another flash in the pan, or the usual noise-making gathering, that will be swept under the dirty Nigerian carpet.”

The National Broadcasting Commission Act is very clear, in terms of the powers vested upon the NBC to regulate the broadcasting industry in Nigeria, especially in section 2 thereof. The NBC is empowered to regulate and control the broadcasting industry, to investigate complaints regarding the contents of a broadcast and the conduct of broadcasting stations and upholding the principles of equity and fairness in broadcasting, etc. As you would well agree with me, the NBC has so far turned a blind eye to the exploitative tendencies of the cable television service providers, with scant regard for the onerous responsibility imposed upon it by law to ensure “strict adherence to the national laws, rules and regulations relating to the participation of foreign capital in relation to local capital in broadcasting”.Nigerians have before now protested, they have filed cases in court and they have written several complaints to the National Assembly, all to no avail, as the service providers have insisted on maximum profit, without regard for the satisfaction or plight of their customers. And the questions keep popping up all the time: why is there only one company in a country of about two hundred million people, providing cable television service? Why DSTV only? Why has NBC become so weak and dysfunctional to become totally incapable of protecting the people that it was set up to serve? When will the exploitation end? Why is it impossible to hold DSTV accountable to the same pay per view policy that the same company is implementing in its home country and indeed other African countries? So many questions indeed.

If your subscription to cable television expires, you are disconnected instantly and automatically, but when you renew it, you have to call customer service to get reconnected, going through all manner of manipulative regimes that may cause you days of inactive service despite payment which is already running. What has NBC done, to advocate for extension of viewing time to correspond to the period of inactive service after payment? How do you allow a company floated by private individuals for their own personal profit, to ride roughshod over a whole nation, rendering all of us helpless and exploited? During the initial life of GSM service providers in Nigeria, we heard all manner of stories and arguments why it was impossible to provide calls per second, until another network came on board and revolutionized GSM in Nigeria, thus freeing us from the commercial bondage. It is the same story with DSTV and other cable television service providers. Attempts have been made in the past to compete with DSTV and break its monopoly, through HITV and lately TSTV, all of which did not materialize. Why? Only NBC can answer that question successfully.

This was the scenario until June 25, 2020, when the House of Representatives through its Ad Hoc Committee gave a marching order to DSTV and other cable television service providers to begin the implementation of the pay per view policy immediately.There had been a debate on the floor of the House earlier, when Honourable Idem and other members took up this challenge. Let us go through the newsreport of the proceedings of the House:

“DSTV and other Direct-to-home service providers have deliberately refused to implement the pay as you go plan but rather charge users on a fixed monthly tariff plan, unlike what is obtained outside Nigeria.”

He also explained that Nigeria constitutes over 40% of the total subscribers of DSTV, adding that Nigerians do not get to use the monthly subscription due to one reason or another. Also speaking in support of the motion, Aminu Suleiman called for an end to the monopoly enjoyed by DSTV.

“I have attempted for over a year now to sponsor a motion on the inhuman treatment the DSTV is dishing out to TV watchers in Nigeria. I say that because it is not only in Kenya that DSTV is operating the Pay-As-You view. It is just an abuse and playing with the intelligence of Nigerians. And the monopoly they enjoy contributes to this fact. We will have to encourage NCC to unbundle the entire process and allow investors to come in. They are South African companies, and they don’t do this general viewing to the South African viewers.”

This was the background, when the cable television companies met with the Ad Hoc Committee of the House on June 25, 2020. The Committee did not mince words at all, as it thundered and roared, very loud and clear. The Committee Chairman, Honourable Idem, stated in no uncertain terms that there will be no way for the companies to maneuver the system this time around, as a decision had been taken already, to ensure pay per view. It is for the companies to go back and fine tune the process of implementation, he said. I was moved to tears watching the proceedings of the Committee. I mean this is why we elected them in the first place, or else why should we all become so helpless to continue to tolerate the insensitivity of just one company, for these many years? When there is a power outage and your television and cable network are not powered, you are still paying for viewing nothing! Come on DSTV, this profiteering must come to an end! It is sheer wickedness and economic witchcraft, to continue to insist on the regime of monthly subscription; indeed it is ungodly, especially when this is not the practice in the home country of your company, South Africa. How do we allow a foreign investor, in the name of recouping capital, to invade our land with a shylock policy that it would dare not implement in its own country? How do people take us for granted in this way, if not for the active collusion of our citizens who have been entrusted with power to regulate but have surrendered themselves to be regulated instead?

All people of good conscience must commend the House of Representatives for this bold initiative, while we urge the Senate to join the crusade to free us from this commercial exploitation. How many more years does DSTV require to recoup capital since these many decades of extortion? This must not be another flash in the pan, or the usual noise-making gathering, that will be swept under the dirty Nigerian carpet. No, we must follow up with this to ensure it is implemented to the letter. The NBC must wake up and assert its authority on behalf of the people of Nigeria, to implement the pay per view policy, by all means necessary. Our representatives in the National Assembly have spoken our minds and there is no further assurance than the words spoken at the proceedings of the Ad Hoc Committee of the House of Representatives. Enough is enough. Do I hear your loud voice in support, roaring like thunder!

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

DEMOCRACY DAY: ‘ELECTORAL BANDITRY FUELS INSECURITY, POVERTY’ – OJUKWU

Leading lawyer and former Deputy Director of the Nigerian Law School, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu SAN has take a hard look at Nigeria’s democractic journey, warning that “We can only celebrate the 2020 democracy day as democracy aspirations, dreams and hopes for Nigeria.”

In a press statement made available to CITY LAWYER to mark this year’s Democracy Day, the former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate observed that “electoral banditry has provided the impetus for seriously failed governance on human rights, damaged judiciary, poverty and insecurity,” adding that “What plays out especially at our State and local government levels are massive corruption and executive lawlessness.”

The full text of the statement is below:

We have not done well as a nation with regards to elections and rule of law. Our leaders and politicians have paid lip service to the tenets of democratic principles. There has not been any general elections that has not been hijacked by individuals and groups backed by governments through massive rigging, thuggery and brigandage. The same scenario plays out at party primaries. That culture of stealing and rigging elections has also permeated our other segments of society such as the Nigerian Bar Association at both the National and branch elections.

Many organisations and professional groups have also been enmeshed in rigging election as a way of life in Nigeria including elections of students unions. The Nation has not bled so much as it has in terms of failed democracy as we have witnessed especially since 2004 when we made the first effort to conduct a civilian to civilian transition elections. Our electoral umpire has largely colluded with our bandit political leaders and party men to foist on Nigeria a culture of dishonesty and fraud in the electoral process. We can hardly say that the leaders that emerge through these fraudulent elections were chosen by the people. And that is why they have hardly represented our interests. And because the electoral system and processes were stolen as a matter of course, it has been impossible to use democratic platforms provided in the constitution to check the excesses of mis-governance including recall of elected representatives at all levels.

This singular act of electoral banditry has provided the impetus for seriously failed governance on human rights, damaged judiciary, poverty and insecurity. What plays out especially at our State and local government levels are massive corruption and executive lawlessness. It is a shame that governance has not worked well in Nigeria since the return to civilian rule in 1999. We can only celebrate the 2020 democracy day as democracy aspirations, dreams and hopes for Nigeria.

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JUNE 12: ADEGBORUWA, FAGBOHUNLU, BALLASON HONOUR ODINKALU WITH HUMAN RIGHTS PARLEY

Leading human rights activists will on Friday hold a webinar in honour of foremost civil rights advocate and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu. The webinar is in commemoration of Odinkalu’s birthday anniversary.
Among those who are billed to speak at the webinar are fiery human rights activist, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN); leading woman activist, Gloria Ballason; outspoken human rights campaigner, Mr. Inibehe Effiong; former Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Young Lawyers’ Forum, Mr. Issa Adedokun and Cynthia Mbamalu of the ‘Not too young to run’ fame.

With Mr. Babatunde Fagbohunlu SAN, Partner and Head of the Litigation, Arbitration and ADR Practice Group at Aluko & Oyebode as Chairman, the webinar has “The Future of Human Rights In Nigeria” as its theme.

With Mr. Orji Ama Chinedu as the arrow-head, Odinkalu said of the conveners: “A bunch of young people whom I have mentored are setting this up as annual event on 12 June. They had wanted to start in 2018 but I told them my mum was in terminal condition. Last year, I told them I was still in mourning. It begins next (this) week. Please feel free to join if you can.”

The webinar is scheduled to hold on Friday, June 12, 2020 at 11:00 am. Prospective participants can register at the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAuf-ypqDIjHtXjmd6dk-__2B3FSxxrhf5A. After registration, a confirmation email would be sent notifying the registrant on hot to join the conference.

Odinkalu is a Senior Team Manager at Open Society Foundations, a global charity that works with local communities to support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.

He received his PhD in law from the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to joining Open Society Foundations, Odinkalu was Senior Legal Officer responsible for Africa and Middle East at the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights in London; Human Rights Advisor to the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone, and Brandeis International Fellow at the Centre for Ethics, Justice and Public Life of the Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA.

Odinkalu has extensive networks across Africa built up over several years of working for human rights and social justice on the continent. He is associated with several non-governmental and academic institutions within and outside Africa. He is frequently called upon to advise multilateral and bilateral institutions on Africa-related policy, including the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, and the World Economic Forum.
As well as acting as the Chair of IRRI’s Board, Odinkalu also serves on the Board of the Fund for Global Human Rights. In 2017 he was appointed Steering Committee Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section of Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) by the NBA President, leading to the resuscitation of the comatose entity.

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

NBA LAGOS SET TO MARK HUMAN RIGHTS DAY

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch has lined up several programmes to celebrate this year’s International Human Rights Day. Continue Reading

AGC: Human Rights Book Takes Centre-stage

A seminal human rights book written by celebrated human rights activist, Chief Frank Agbedo will be the cynosure of all eyes at the ongoing Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) Annual General Conference due to its rich content.

Titled ‘Human Rights Litigation in Nigeria,’ the incisive treatise on human rights litigation is based on the provisions of the 2009 FREP Rules, with current case law.

It is available for sale at major book stands at the conference venue from 26th to 31st August, 2018.

Get your copies at special conference prices. Contact Wunmi on 08138544435 or 08029145314 for more information.

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Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.