A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the extension of the deadline for enrolment for the National Identity Number by two months with effect from Tuesday, March 23, 2021.
Justice Maureen Onyetenu granted the extension while delivering a ruling in a suit (MONDAY ONYEKACHI UBANI V. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA & ORS) filed by leading human rights lawyer, Mr. Monday Ubani against the Federal Government, Attorney General of the Federation, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy.
Ubani instituted the fundamental rights enforcement suit seeking enforcement of his fundamental rights as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He contended that the initial two weeks ultimatum (now extended to 6th day of April, 2021) given to telecommunication operators to block SIM Cards of Nigerians who have not registered their SIM Card with NIN if allowed, will infringe on his constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression, right to own moveable property and right to life. He therefore prayed the Court for an Order extending the deadline.
In her ruling, Justice Onyetenu granted all the reliefs sought by Ubani and made the following declarations and orders:
1. A DECLARATION that the 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.
2. A DECLARATION that in view of the covid-19 pandemic and the rising cases in Nigeria presently, the 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).
3. AN ORDER halting the said 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).
4. AN ORDER directing the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to extend the deadline for the registration of SIM Cards with NIN for a further two months with effect from the 23rd day of March, 2021.
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