According to a report by the Vanguard, the Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to pay the All Progressives Congress (APC) USD 2.5 million in damages for unlawfully banning its presidential campaign fundraising platform.
According to the report, Judge Justice Ibrahim Buba handed down the order in its judgment in the suit by the party against NCC, Etisalat, MTN Nigeria Limited, Globacom Limited, Airtel Nigeria Limited and Visafone Communications Limited. The court held that APC was protected by the constitution to push for the enforcement of its fundamental right once violated.
The report revealed that the court dismissed the NCC’s counter affidavit, and held that the action of respondents were illegal and unconstitutional. According to the Vanguard, the damages are to be paid jointly by all the respondents.
APC had sued the commission, demanding N25bn as damages, for allegedly banning its presidential campaign fund-raising platform. It had accused the NCC of instructing Etisalat, MTN Nigeria Limited, Globacom Limited, Airtel Nigeria Limited and Visafone Communications Limited to discontinue an SMS platform it created for the purpose of getting donations from willing members of the public for its presidential campaign.
The party had claimed that it initiated the participatory fund-raising platform as a way of getting members of the general public to contribute N100 to its presidential campaign fund each time they sent APC as an SMS to 35350.
It added that NCC, by a letter dated January 19, 2015, instructed the other respondents to shut down the platform, warning them “to avoid running political advertisement/promotions that will portray them as being partisan.”
The commission was alleged to have also threatened to sanction any of the telecommunications service providers which failed to comply with the order.
According to leadership.ng, APC, considering the NCC’s instruction and the consequent shutting down of its fund-raising platform as both discriminatory and an infringement on its fundamental right protected by Section 39 of the Constitution and Articles 9 (1) (2) and 19 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, headed to court.
It argued that the NCC did not give the same instruction to the other respondents when the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, set up the short codes designated: 6661, 662, 6663 and 6664, being managed by one Wagitel Communications Limited to raise funds for the campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan and his vice, Namadi Sambo, in 2010.