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Court grants extension of NIN-SIM linkage by two months

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos state has granted the extension of the deadline for National Identity Number (NIN) by two months effective from Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

This order was sequel to a judgement by Justice M.A. Onyetenu in a suit filed by human rights lawyer, Monday Ubani against the federal government, Attorney General of the Federation, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy.

Ubani filed had, in December 2020, filed a suit over the initial deadline of December 30 2020 set for NIN-SIM registration.

The human rights lawyer argued that the initial two-week deadline (now extended to April 6, 2021) issued by the federal government to telecommunication operators for NIN registration will infringe on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians and expose them to COVID-19.

The suit partly read,

“That the two weeks (16th December to 30th December 2020) ultimatum given to telecommunication operators by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to block all Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards that are not registered with National Identity Number (NIN), is grossly inadequate and will not only work severe hardship.

“But will likely infringe on the fundamental rights of the Applicant (and millions of other Nigerians) to freedom of expression as guaranteed by section 39(1)(2) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as violate section 44(1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which prohibits the compulsory acquisition of right or interest over the moveable property.”

Ubani, therefore, prayed the court for an order halting the said ultimatum and extending the deadline.

Ubani, in the court documents, also prayed the court to declare that:

“The ultimatum was given to telecommunications operators by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to block all Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards that are not registered with NIN, is grossly inadequate and will not only work severe hardship but will likely infringe on the fundamental rights of the Applicant (and millions of other Nigerians) to freedom of expression as guaranteed by section 39(1)(2) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as violate section 44(1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which prohibits the compulsory acquisition of right or interest over the moveable property.

“A declaration that in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cases in Nigeria presently, the deadline given by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to the Applicant and over 200 million Nigerians to register their SIM Cards with NIN, will lead to a rush, thereby resulting to clustering of the Applicant and other Nigerian citizens in a NIN registration centre, subjecting him to the possibility of easily contracting the covid-19 virus, and such will amount to a violation of his fundamental right to life as protected by section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”

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