COVID-19: Court asked to stop NIN registration

A Federal High Court Lagos on Monday, fixed Feb.15 to hear a suit challenging the ongoing process of linking the National Identification Number (NIN) with Mobile lines.
Nigerians violating COVID-19 protocol of physical distancing at NIN registration centre

A Federal High Court Lagos on Monday, fixed Feb.15 to hear a suit challenging the ongoing process of linking  the National Identification Number (NIN) with Mobile lines.

Justice Mohammed Liman fixed the date for notices to be served on all parties in the suit after the plaintiff Chief Malcom Omirhobo had informed the court of his process.

The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that Omirhobo sued the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) alongside others over alleged coercion on citizens to link their NIN within a stipulated time frame, without adherence to Covid 19 protocols.

Joined as defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy; Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC); the DG NIMC, and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Other defendants are: MTN Nigeria Communications Plc; GLOBACOM Ltd; Airtel Networks Ltd (Airtel Nigeria) and the Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd, EMTS 9 Mobile.

The applicant who is suing for himself and on behalf of the Nigerian public, brought his suit under the provisions of the fundamental rights enforcement rules enshrined in the 1999 constitution.

When the case was called on Monday, Omirhobo announced appearance as appearing in person, and informed the court of his ex parte motion as well as an affidavit of urgency attached.

He told the court that in the midst of the prevailing Covid 19 pandemic it was too risky to proceed with the process, adding that further steps should be stopped, pending determination of the suit.

Justice Mohammed Liman then asked the plaintiff if he had any written document specifying the deadline for the registration and the plaintiff told the court that there were online publications to the effect that the new deadline extension was Feb. 9 .

The court consequently, ordered that all parties be served with the processes and he fixed Feb. 15 to hear both the motion for interlocutory injunction as well as the substantive suit, while he struck out the ex parte motion.

The plaintiff wants the court to declare that Nigerians are entitled to the fundamental right to life, dignity of human person, right to private and family life, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to moveable property.

The lawyer is asking the court to declare that the respondents’ coercion of the applicant and Nigerians without themselves first complying with the COVID-19 guidelines is a violation of the fundamental right to life of Nigerians .

According to him, the threat by the respondents to disconnect the telephone lines of Nigerians, who fail to link their NIN to their SIM cards within a timeline is a violation of the fundamental right to life of the applicant and Nigerians.

He argued that the directive led millions of Nigerians besieging the various NIMC offices nationwide in breach of COVID-19 protocols, while trying to comply with the said directives and in the process exposed themselves to the likelihood of contracting Corona virus.

Omirhobo, therefore, prayed the court to declare such decisions illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.

He said that the directive to make the presentation of NIN a condition-precedent for the retrieval of lost and/or damaged telephone lines is a violation of the fundamental right of Nigerians and therefore illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.

He asked the court to make an order for the enforcement of the fundamental right to life, dignity of human person, right to private and family life, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to moveable property of Nigerians.

He is also praying the court to compel the respondents to resume the sale of new SIM cards, replace lost or damaged sim cards to Nigerians as well as issue a public apology to the applicant and the public.

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A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.