Nigeria: TCN Boss Risks Jail for Flouting Court Order

20 August 2019

Abuja — A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory has ordered the managing director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Mr Usman Gur Mohammed, to appear before it and explain why he should not be committed to prison for disobeying its order restraining them from shutting down the plants and machinery of Phase3 Telecom Limited.

The court had on May 28, 2018 restrained TCN from shutting down the plants and instruments of the independent fibre optic infrastructure and telecommunications services provider pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed by the telecom firm.

The court also stopped Mohammed from acting on the letter by TCN dated August 30, 2017, purportedly terminating the agreement between it and Phase3 Telecom on March 20, 2006 to design, build, finance and operate the Fibre Optic Telecommunications Infrastructure (Phase3 Concession agreement) pending the determination of the suit.

The Abuja High Court on Friday August 16, 2019 gave an order granting leave to Phase3 Telecom to effect service of form 49 (notice to show cause why order no: R/N 11623088 and 11623089 should not be made) on TCN and its MD, Mohammed who are being sought to be committed to prison for contempt by substituted means.

The court ordered that the applicant should serve Mohammed and TCN the committal to prison notice by pasting the processes at the head office of TCN at Plot 441 Zambezi Crescent, Maitama, Abuja and by publishing same as advert in LEADERSHIP Newspaper or THISDAY Newspaper respectively.

The court adjourned the matter to September 5, 2019.

Recall that the TCN had on March 20, 2006 signed an agreement with Phase3 to design, build, finance and operate the fibre optical cable telecommunication infrastructure.

But in a letter dated August 30, 2017 and addressed to the management of Phase3 Telecom Limited, the TCN cancelled the agreement, citing breach of contract terms.

Phase3 Telecom Limited had repeatedly denied the alleged breach of the agreement terms, insisting on the ownership of the fibre optic infrastructure.

He said despite inheriting a non-existent fiber optic network from TCN, the concessionaires have deployed a total of over 3000km and installed state-of-art fiber optic equipment, expending more than $100million as capital and operating expenditure on building the infrastructure.

Phase3 Telecom said TCN continued to make all the unfounded allegations in an attempt to resist the harmonisation of right of way charges for deployment of fiber optic cables as agreed and communicated by the National Economic Council (NEC) towards affordable broadband services in the country.

Regulators and industry experts have said this runs contrary to the efforts of the federal government aimed at providing the enabling environment for private sector investments .to grow the economy.

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