Justice Buba

Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered five telecoms firms to continue with the fund-raising platform for the Presidential campaign of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, thus over-ruling the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) that had earlier ordered its stoppage.
The Judge of the court, Justice Ibrahim Buba, who made the ex-parte order in respect of the APC’s motion, also made an order of interim injunction restraining Etisalat, MTN, Glo, Airtel and Visafone from giving effect to a directive by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which warned them against running political promotions that will portray them as being partisan.
The judge ordered the telecoms firms “to continue to run, operate and/or restore to its full operative use the SMS Code platform 35350 created for fund-raising for the applicant’s presidential campaign.”
The orders are to subsist pending the hearing and determination of APC’s originating motion on notice.
The court also granted APC leave to serve the originating motion on notice and other processes on NCC (the first defendant) outside the court’s jurisdiction.
APC said the platform is to operate till February 12 when campaign activities for the presidential election will end in line with Electoral Act and the election time-table.
In the originating motion, APC is demanding N25billion damages from the defendants for violating the fundamental rights of the party and its members.
It said since the platform was suspended, it has been unable to disseminate or receive information from its supporters via the SMS code 35350.
The party said while the platform was suspended, NCC has allowed that of President Goodluck Jonathan to run seamlessly.
The party said it created a “premium SMS code 35350″ through which willing donors could contribute to its presidential campaign fund.
Within hours of its creation, APC said it was getting about five messages of N100 each every minute. A total of 5,400 messages were received, it said.
However, NCC in a January 19 letter, directed all telecoms service providers “to avoid running political advertisements that will portray them as being partisan.”
NCC said it would “not hesitate to sanction any service provider that will flout this directive.” As a result, the telecoms firms suspended the platform.
However, APC said political parties have been using several media platforms to advertise, with none accused of being partisan. [myad]