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SIM-NIN: Telecom consumers set to sue FG, demand policy suspension

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Telecommucation subscribers under the aegis of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers ( NATCOMS) have said they are set to drag the Federal Government to court in May in a bid to temporarily suspend the government’s barring of subscribers’ outgoing calls.

On Monday, April 4, the Federal Government ordered telecom companies to bar outgoing calls on all lines that have yet to link their National Identification Number and the Subscriber Identity Module.

As a result of this, about 72.77 million active telecom subscribers were barred from making calls on their SIMs.

In response to this, NATCOMS urged the Federal Government to extend the implementation of the SIM-NIN policy by three months. The association also gave the government one month to implement the ban.

President of the association, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, disclosed that NATCOM was set to take the government to court by May if it fails to temporarily lift the ban.

According to him, the association will be joined in a suit already filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project against the Federal Government on the NIN-SIM policy implementation.

He said, “We have said that if the Federal Government does not lift the ban, we would go to court. But SERAP said it had filed a document in the court. So, we are giving the government until the end of the month.

“NATCOM is saying that by end of the month, we will go to court. We are going to court to ensure the government unbans the lines and extends the deadline. SERAP has made the first move already, we would be joined in the suit.

“After the expiration of our deadline for the government to reconsider its decision, we would formally go to court, along with SERAP. By the first week in May, we are joining SERAP in the court.”

Ogunbanjo pointed out that even subscribers who had linked their NIN with their SIMs prior to the directive were also blocked.

He said the directive was unfair to subscribers, adding that its implementation had affected their businesses.

He added, “The present situation of things is so bad because a lot of people that have linked their NIN and SIM are also being blocked. These consumers now have to visit telecom service centres. This is unfortunate.

“When I spoke to one of the telcos, I was told that only ongoing calls were being blocked, as subscribers can still use data, WhatsApp, and text message services; which aligns with the directive of the ministry. However, several people use their lines for business, and this is having an effect on them.

“They can’t make call to their clients, this is a very terrible situation that is affecting businesses. These are part of the reasons we will join SERAP in the suit, so that the Federal Government can unban these lines. And we would request at least a minimum of three months extension of the exercise in the court.”

Ogunbanjo also alleged that racketeering had returned to the National Identity Management Commission centres as officials now charge between N3,000 and N10,000 for NIN registrations.

He stated, “The NIMC centres are jampacked. Telecom consumers are suffering. By the time they go to the centres, they have to pay between N3,000 and N10,000, depending on when the subscriber wants to get the NIN.

“This is unfortunate. Yes, the government says it is free, but these acts are open. Let security agents wear muftis and go to the NIN centres, they would see for themselves that the NIN centre officials are extorting members of the public. The only place they are not exploiting subscribers is the telco centres, the mobile network operators.

“It is free there, but they are constrained as to how many subscribers they can attend to in a day. There is always a crowd there too. And sometimes, the network from the NIMC is slow. These are the situations subscribers are facing. This is unfortunate, and it is the reason we are requesting a deadline extension.”

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Organ harvesting: Dino Melaye reacts to arrest of Ekweremadu, wife

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Dino Melaye

Former Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye has expressed his support for ex-Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu amid controversy of alleged organ harvesting.

Melaye said he stands with Ekweremadu because there was no wrongdoing by the Senator.

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice were arrested in London for allegedly plotting to harvest the kidney of a Nigerian minor.

The UK metropolitan police had arrested and charged Ekweremadu and his wife to court, but the duo pleaded not guilty to the charges at the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.

“These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until 7 July back here at Uxbridge,” Magistrate Lois Sheard said.

Ms Sheard remanded both defendants in custody ahead of their hearing next month.

Sharing Ekweremadu’s letter via his Twitter handle, Melaye wrote: “Sen. Ike Ekweremadu notified the British authorities on his trip with the said boy. I stand with Ike.”

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Supreme Court set to rule on controversial Electoral Act on Friday

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria will on Friday deliver judgment on the legality or otherwise of the controversial section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 .

The apex Court is set for its verdict in the suit instituted against the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice.

A notice for the judgment delivery has just been sighted, indicating that the apex Court will make its position known this morning.

The notice was served on Buhari and the National Assembly on Thursday, inviting them to appear before the court today for their judgment.

Our correspondent further observed that the suit is the only one for determination today.

Buhari and Abubakar Malami had filed the suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of the controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.

In the suit filed on April 29, Buhari and Malami, who are the plaintiffs, listed the National Assembly as the sole defendant.

Section 84 (12) has been a subject of intense litigation and political debate in Nigeria since President Buhari signed the amended Electoral Act 2022 into law in February this year.

Shortly after signing it into law, Buhari had asked the parliament to delete the controversial clause in the Electoral Act, but the National Assembly declined the president’s request.

According to Section 84 (12) of the legislation, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

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World’s most livable cities: Vienna climbs back to its No. 1 spot. These are the biggest decliners

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World’s most livable cities: Vienna climbs back to its No. 1 spot
The Stephansplatz is a square at the geographical centre of Vienna. It is named after its most prominent building, the Stephansdom, Vienna's cathedral and one of the tallest churches in the world.

After two years, Vienna has overtaken Auckland as the world’s most livable city, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Vienna ranked first in 2018 and 2019, but was overtaken by Auckland, New Zealand, during the pandemic and slipped to 12th place in 2021, according to the Global Liveability Index 2022.

The EIU said that Auckland’s position on the index dipped to the 34th place this year because of higher Covid-19 infection rates and strict border controls in 2021. Although lockdowns ended in New Zealand in December, well-vaccinated cities in Europe and Canada had begun easing restrictions earlier.

However, it’s unlikely that Auckland would’ve clinched the top position in this year’s ranking even without a pandemic, according to the EIU.

“Other cities falling was why Auckland was top last time. Without Covid, it would likely be top 10, but not number one,” said Simon Baptist, global chief economist at the research and advisory firm.

Five other European cities — Copenhagen, Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt and Amsterdam — also made the top ten. Canada’s Calgary and Vancouver took the third and fifth spots respectively. Japan’s Osaka and Australia’s Melbourne shared 10th place — the only two “Asian” cities that made it to the top 10.

The 172 cities that were included in the rating were assessed on these categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Biggest decliners
Cities in New Zealand and Australia were the biggest fallers in the EIU’s livability ranking.

New Zealand’s capital Wellington dived by 46 places, while Australia’s Adelaide and Perth lost their 2021 positions in the top 10. They are now in the 30th and 32nd place respectively.

Australian and New Zealand cities snagged six of the top 10 spots last year, but were “much, much lower down” on this year’s list as their partial reopening coincided with the spread of the more contagious omicron variant, Baptist told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Thursday.

But the EIU is optimistic that these cities would bounce back.

“We can expect to see Australian and New Zealand cities moving up the rankings next year, when we do the next round of the survey. And this will be because they will have relaxed more of their Covid restrictions,” said Baptist.

Other cities in the region saw their rankings slip as well.

Singapore fell three spots to 37th place this year, while Hong Kong dropped to 62nd place from 49th last year.

“This is a long term change, it’s not just about Covid. That is part of it. But Hong Kong’s loss of connectivity is likely to be permanent,” said Baptist, citing the decline of cultural and political freedom in the city.

Russian cities plunged
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine saw Moscow’s livability ranking fall by 15 places, while St. Petersburg dipped by 13 spots, the EIU reported.

“Both cities record a fall in scores owing to increased instability, censorship, imposition of Western sanctions and corporates withdrawing their operations from the country,” the report said.

The war on Ukraine also affected the rankings of other Eastern European cities that have been facing political standoffs security threats, food and energy insecurities, and rising inflation, EIU said.

For example, Poland’s Warsaw and Hungary’s Budapest saw their stability scores slip as a result of rising diplomatic tensions, the EIU added.

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv was also excluded from this year’s report, and 33 new cities — 11 of them in China — were added.

The top 10
These are the world’s most livable cities and their scores, according to The Global Liveability Index 2022:

  1. Vienna, Austria (99.1)
  2. Copenhagen, Denmark (98.0)
  3. TIE — Zurich, Switzerland (96.3)
  4. TIE — Calgary, Canada (96.3)
  5. Vancouver, Canada (96.1)
  6. Geneva, Switzerland (95.9)
  7. Frankfurt, Germany (95.7)
  8. Toronto, Canada (95.4)
  9. Amsterdam, Netherlands (95.3)
  10. TIE — Osaka, Japan (95.1)
  11. TIE — Melbourne, Australia (95.1)

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