The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari on the grounds of his intransigence to unblock the phone lines of over 72 million subscribers barred from making calls on their Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs).
SERAP filed a lawsuit due to the directive by the Federal Government to bar outgoing calls on all unlinked lines, following the expiration of the NIN-SIM Linkage on March 31.
SERAP’s lawyers, olawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, who spoke on the the organisation said the the action of the directive by President Buhari doesn’t match with the due process of law.
“An order setting aside the directive by President Buhari to telecommunications companies to block outgoing calls on all unlinked lines without due process of law, and for being inconsistent with the requirements of legality, necessity and proportionality,” the lawyers explained.
SERAP argued that telecommunication services should not be deprived from Nigerians because it is essential for the implementation of human rights
“It is in the interest of justice to grant this application.
“Access to telecommunications services is a condition sine qua non for the effective exercise of human rights. Therefore, the decision to block people from making calls is discriminatory, and a travesty.
“The blocking of phone lines of Nigerians without due process of law has disproportionately affected those on the margins of society.
“This has resulted in the discrimination of marginalized or vulnerable groups.” it stated.
“While Nigerian authorities have a legal responsibility to protect, ensure and secure the rights to life and property, any such responsibility ought to be discharged in conformity with human rights standards.
“Fundamental rights are regarded as part of human rights and are protected to enhance human dignity and liberty.”
“Unblocking the phone lines unlawfully barred from making calls would improve respect for the rule of law, and ensure people’s right to freedom of expression, and access to information, as well as their right to associate with others.”
“The blocking of people from making calls constitutes impermissible restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, information, and association.
“The decision to block the phone lines also appears to be arbitrary, and lacks any legal framework, independent and judicial oversight.
“This may allow authorities to act in an unfettered and potentially arbitrary or unlawful manner.
“Under international human rights law, States including Nigeria ‘shall not engage in or condone any disruption of access to digital technologies for segments of the public or an entire population,” the suit read in part.