6 February 2013

Nigeria: Ijaw Lawyers Demand N2 Billion Damages From MTN

A group, Ijaw Layers Association (ILA), has demanded N2 billion as damages from telecommunications giant, MTN, for poor services rendered to the people.

In suit number: FHC/PH/CS/23/2013 filed at the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt by registered trustees of the group, Mr. Odiedim Amachree, Ojujoh John and Emomotimi Koroye, the association said MTN had failed to provide and deliver smooth, seamless and uninterrupted service to the plaintiff since September 2012.

They said by "failing, refusing or neglecting to improve its services to the plaintiffs from September, 2012 till date, the defendant has breached its statutory duties to deal reasonably with the plaintiffs who are its customers and to meet the minimum standards of services specified by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for consumers of telecommunications services."

The association also accused MTN of not responding to complaints of the consumers.

They, therefore, demanded damages in the sum of N2 billion for the losses and injuries suffered by the plaintiffs as occasioned by the breach of duties by the defendant.

The association also demanded N20 million as cost of instituting and prosecuting the matter.

THISDAY gathered that the matter had been assigned to Court 1 presided by Justice Lambo Akanbi.

Meanwhile, MTN had in a response to earlier complaints made by ILA attributed network fluctuations to the ongoing up-grade of its facilities.

In a letter dated January and signed by the General Manager, Commercial Legal, Oghenerume Rotimi, and the General Manager, Regulatory Affairs, Oyeronke Oyetunde, on behalf of MTN, the service provider said in addition to disruptions caused by the systems up-grade, government officials also contributed to the poor services.

"We also wish to draw your attention to the fact that telecommunications operators continue to labour under a regime of multiple taxation, regulation, theft, vandalism and insecurity. On a daily basis, our employees are threatened, harassed and meted out with all kinds of treatment by various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government who attempt to enforce illegal demands made against our operations.

"In certain instances, these MDAs shut down our sites and other infrastructure which in turn affects service delivery to our subscribers," the letter read.

While accepting its shortcomings, the company appealed to the ILA to exercise restraint in the matter.

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