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NCC, MTN, others to pay N500m as damages to APC

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria has ordered the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to pay the All Progressives Congress (APC) 500 million naira as damages for unlawfully banning the party’s presidential campaign fundraising platform.

Justice Ibrahim Buba in his verdict while delivering judgment in the suit filed by the party against NCC, Etisalat, MTN Nigeria Limited, Globacom Limited, Airtel Nigeria Limited and Visafone Communications Limited declared that APC was protected by the constitution to push for the enforcement of its fundamental right once violated. He thereafter threw out NCC’s counter-affidavit and ruled that the action of the respondents were illegal and unconstitutional.

The damages were going to be paid jointly and severally by all the respondents, the Judge asserted.

The political party had sued the commission, demanding N25 billion as damages, for allegedly banning its presidential campaign fund-raising platform.

APC accused the NCC of instructing the 2nd to 6th respondents to discontinue any SMS platform it created for the purpose of getting donations from willing members of the public for its presidential campaign. The party claimed to have initiated the participatory fund-raising platform as a way of getting members of the general public to contribute N100 to its campaign fund each time they sent APC as an SMS to 35350.

But it claimed that NCC, by a letter dated January 19, 2015, instructed the other respondents to shut down the platform, warning them “to avoid running political advertisement/promotions that will portray them as being partisan.”

The commission had also threatened to sanction any of the telecommunications service providers which failed to comply with the order.

But APC considered the NCC’s instruction and the consequent shutting down of its fund-raising platform as both discriminatory and an infringement on its fundamental right protected by Section 39 of the Constitution and Articles 9 (1) (2) and 19 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

It argued that the NCC did not give the same instruction to the other respondents when the Peoples Democratic Party set up the short codes designated: 6661, 662, 6663 and 6664, being managed by one Wagitel Communications Limited to raise funds for the campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan and his vice President, Namadi Sambo, in 2010.

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