This Day (Lagos)

28 January 2013

Nigeria: Oni Asks Court to Revoke MTN's Licence

A former Governor of Ekiti State and the National Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South-west, Chief Segun Oni, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to revoke the licence issued to MTN Nigeria to provide telecoms business in the country.

Oni sued both MTN and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as first and second defendants respectively seeking the revocation of MTN's operational licence over its alleged refusal to release all information required to establish the allegation that the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami had relationship with the leadership of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and which relationship influenced Salami's decision in the judgment that removed him (Oni) from office as governor.

Oni is praying for an order of the court, compelling or asking the NNC to revoke the operating licence of MTN in public and national interest, and in defence of national security.

He also wants the court to issue an order directing the company to pay the sum of N150 billion only to him being general damages suffered by him as a consequence of defamation occasioned by MTN's first unfair corporate practice and deceitful manipulation which proved detrimental to his interest.

He asked the court to declare that MTN was under a duty to prevent its services or facilities from being used in the commission of any offence or breach of any law made for the good governance, public order and security of Nigeria.

However, the trial judge, Justice Adamu Bello has fixed February 25 for hearing of the suit.

Oni, who instituted the suit through his counsel, Segun Ilori, claimed that sometime in 2010, the Governorship Election Appeal Tribunal in Ilorin nullified his election as Ekiti State Governor following which he and his party, duly expressed their dissatisfaction with the aforementioned judgment because of the discovery of a breach of constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing before an impartial tribunal or judges, as well as ethical breaches in relation to the acts of some judicial officers connected with the appeal.

He further claimed that as an expression of his dissatisfaction with the said judgment, he forwarded and submitted petitions to the National Judicial Council (NJC), alleging misconduct against certain judicial officers in the handling and determination of Governorship Election Appeal in respect of Ekiti State.

Oni also claimed that the NJC, in accordance with its statutory and legal duties set up a Special Investigative Panel in 2011 to determine the culpability or otherwise of certain judicial officers with respect to allegations of corruption that rocked the judiciary.

He also stated that during the course of investigations carried out by an arm of government's law enforcement and security agencies in the country, the office of the Area Commander, Nigeria Police Force, Area "G" Command Headquarters, Ogba, Lagos, did request that MTN furnish it with information on telephone subscriber numbers 08034004887 and 0803401070, belonging to Justice Isa Ayo Salami and Chief Tunji Ijaiya respectively - the principal characters fingered in the communication between Salami and ACN's chieftains during the pendency of the Ekiti State gubernatorial appeal.

He also claimed that MTN did furnish the said Area G Police Command Office with the call data records of the two numbers aforementioned, for a period of five months - September 2010 -Jan 2011 and that in order to assist the NJC Panel in its assigned duty, requests were made to all the mobile telephony and ancillary service providers in the country to furnish the Special Investigative Panel set up by the council with call data records of certain subscribers.

He further added that the three other GSM service providers cooperated fully with the panel and availed the latter of call data records; spanning, in some cases, six (6) calendar months. The call data records were forwaded by Glo, Airtel and Etisalat.

He however claimed that MTN deliberately frustrated the work of the panel by providing inadequate and incomplete call data records to the law enforcement and security agencies, which, the latter, in turn, transmitted to the Special Investigative Panel of the NJC and thus manipulated same.

He also added that to his dismay, MTN forwarded incomplete and inadequate call data records, to wit; only the originating (outgoing) component without the terminating (incoming) component to law enforcement and security agencies; particularly the National Security Adviser, who transmitted same to NJC Panel, as opposed to the call data records it released to the Area Commander, "Area G" Command, Ogba, Lagos, which contained both originating and terminating components.

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