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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ban on political shortcodes: NCC to appeal APC judgment



The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may have decided to approach the Court of Appeals over the Tuesday judgment by a Lagos Court on the ban of use of shortcodes 35350 by telecom operators, ITRealms can authoritatively reveal.
ITRealms also gathered from senior management staff of NCC that the Commission has no other option than to appeal the judgement and invariably to a higher court for a logical conclusion.
According to ITRealms sources, there seem to be lack of knowledge of what National Communication Act (NCA) 2003 is all about and therefore, lacks adequate information to deliver industry-inspired judgement to engender progress for the sector.
In the word of our sources, the judgement is definitely a misguided one that will be trashed out at an Appellate Court, “so there is no cause for alarm.”
For our source, NCC still has about 90 days from March 24 to appeal the case or abide by it byway of paying the stipulated amount of damages.
ITRealms recalls that a court sitting in Lagos, Tuesday, March 24, 2015 gave judgement in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the ban on mobile telecom shortcode – 35350, ITRealms reports.
The court, ITRealms reports also ordered the NCC alongside five mobile operators to pay APC the sum of N500 million as damages.
The APC had on the wake of the ban, draggred NCC and some five mobile operators to court, including MTN Nigeria, Glo, Etisalat, Airtel and Visafone, while NCC reportedly placed the ban because of suspected use of mobile short codes for fundraising Short Messaging Service (SMS) on which NCC said did not pass through due process and amounts to short-changing Nigerians, especially unsuspecting electorates and mobile users.
Also, quoted the Lagos state Governor, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), who doubles as the Chairman Buhari-Osinbajo Presidential Campaign Fundraising Committee in Abuja.
He said, the commission’s ban on the party’s mobile fundraising shortcode was a breach of constitutional provisions and amounts to double standards.
He stressed that the party has no other choice than to seek legal redress of the action.
According to him, the directive to shut the platform was contained in a letter dated January 19, with reference number NCC/CAB/GEN/2015 VOL.1/004, which was signed by officials of the NCC.
Fashola noted that the letter was signed the Director of Consumer Affairs, Mrs Maryam Bayi, and Head of Legal and Regulatory Services, Mr. Yinka Akinloye, on behalf of the NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Dr. Eugene Juwah.
He further alleged that NCC was operating double standards, recalling that in 2010, approval was granted the Jonathan/Sambo campaign organisation to raise funds using such a platform, but that the APC was being denied the same right in 2015.
“We have advised our lawyers to go to court; they are preparing the papers now. In 2010, approval was given to the Jonathan/Sambo campaign to raise fund (using such a platform). The rule seems to have changed in 2015,” he alleged.
Mr. Fashola noted that even though the platform was established when APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, was still seeking the party’s nomination as flag bearer, “it is still up and running and supporters can still donate.”
Consequently, Mr. Justice Ibrahim Buba said the ban lacus standi.
“The directive by the NCC to the telecoms firms is hereby struck out having been made without power and in contravention of the fundamental rights of the applicant (APC)” he declared.
Justice Buba also ordered the payment of N500m as damages to APC.
The NCC or any of the operators joined in the suit have reacted to the judgement.
 

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