Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lagos drags ALTON to Supreme Court

In its bid to ensure that the Lagos State Government (LSG) Mast and Tower Edict sees the light of the day, the Babatunde Fashola-led government has advanced plans to drag telecom operators to the apex court in the land, the Supreme Court.

ITRealms Online recalls that telecommunications regulation is among the exclusive list of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).

Even as a Federal High Court in Lagos presided over by Justice Joseph Auta, had on February 25, 2007, delivered a landmark judgment in favour of ALTON in the suit No. FHC/L/CS/517/06, which was on registered trustees of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) & Ors versus Lagos State Government & Ors.

Also, Lagos State appealed the judgment which ITRealms Online gathered was not favourable either, hence the choice for the apex court, the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
ITRealms Online investigations further showed that filing of papers have reached advanced stage to facilitate the case getting first hearing before the end of this quarter.

Commenting on this, the publicity secretary, ALTON, Mr. Damian Udeh, told ITRealms Online on phone that they also heard about the Supreme Court plan from the media, and has not received official papers to that effect, but, expressed the believe that in the coming weeks, they intend to consult with their lawyers.
“We have not been served papers officially,” he asserted.

Encouraged by the executive, the Lagos State House Assembly reportedly passed a law ‘The Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency Law, 2004’ which both the High Court and Appeal Court have ruled out of order, maintaining that telecommunications regulation is an exclusive of the federal government responsibility as contained in the Constitution.

Although Lagos State claims it is seeking the validation of the law in protection of environment within its domain, but telcos and allied operators see that step as deceitful attempt to boost its revenue base, even as efforts at settling out of court failed in the past.

Meanwhile, Gov. Fashola said at Channels TV recently that Lagos State has the powers to regulate the urban planning element of its environment, noting that it is saddening to see about four mast towers mounted at a location ordinarily where it could have been just one.

He also pointed out that some mast towers were located too close to residence and public centres such as schools and expressed dismay over a recent incident that involved a fallen mast tower and a school building.

Advising telecommunications operators to co-locate, he reiterated the state’s resolve to pursue the case up to the Supreme Court, since the operators have gone to court in the first place.

Fashola equally said that the state is not keen in contesting the powers of the Federal Government (FG) or the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the regulation of telecommunications in the country, but maintained that host states of these companies should be entitled to some incentives.

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