Group sues Gov Matawalle, MTN, Airtel, Glo, others over network shutdown in Zamfara

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A civil society organisation, Zamfara Circle, has sued mobile telecommunications network providers seeking N100 million damages for the closure of mobile networks in the state.

MTN, Glo, 9mobile and Airtel are the defendants in the case.

Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, commissioner for justice and attorney general of the state and the National Communications Commission (NCC) were also been joined in the suit as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively.

Mr Matawalle had ordered the ban on mobile telecommunications network in the state as part of efforts to tackle insecurity.

The service was restored in some parts of the state after a review of the security situation but six local government areas are still without the mobile network.

The areas, PREMIUM TIMES gathered, are Zurmi, Shinkafi, Maru, Maradun, Bakura and Birnin Magaji.

They are considered to be the worst hit when it comes to banditry in the state.

Court case

In the motion ex parte filed in a court in Gusau, the state capital, Zamfara Circle said the shutting down of the network caused suffering and losses to the subscribers.

It asked the court to determine if the plaintiffs are entitled to damages following the losses they incurred.

The plaintiffs, Zamfara Circle, Musa Umar and Ahmed Jamilu, argued that the network providers went ahead to shut down network in the state on the 3rd September 2021 ”without obtaining court order to the effect which breached terms of contract entered into between the plaintiffs and defendants”.

The suit is praying the court to determine among others, whether there exists between the Plaintiffs and the 4th, 5th and 6th Defendants, a binding contract for the provision of telecommunication services including internet and email.

Similarly, whether it asked the court to determine whether the directive of the 1st and 3rd Defendants to the 4th, 5th and 6th Defendants to unilaterally shut down the telecommunication services in Zamfara State on the 3rd September, 2021 thereby deciding the Plaintiffs access to the use of telecommunication services in the State is not a breach of the contract between the Plaintiffs and the 4th, 5th and 6th Defendants.

”Also determine whether the Plaintiffs are not entitled to damages against the Defendants arising from direct losses suffered by them within the period that the 4th, 5th and 6th Defendants shut down of telecommunication services including internet and email in Zamfara State.”

Other prayers for determination by the court include that ”the relationship between the Plaintiffs and the 4th, 5th and 6th Defendants is contractual and binding and that the directive of the 1st and 3rd Defendants to the 4th, 5th and 6th Defendants to unilaterally shut down telecommunication services in Zamfara State on the 3rd September, 2021 induced a breach of the contractual relationship between the Plaintiffs and the 4th, 5th, and 6th Defendants.”

They also sought an order from the court to direct the defendants to immediately restore telecommunication services in Zamfara State.

The motion was brought pursuant to Order 15 Rule 3 (1) of the High Court of Zamfara State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2014, sections 96, 97, 98 and 99 of the Sherriff and civil process Act, Cap 551, LFL 2004 as well as the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

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