An Accra Fast Track High Court on Tuesday dismissed an application filed by MTN, Vodafone and the National Telecommunications Authority (NCA), challenging the basis upon which a consumer organisation had sued them for breaching sections of the Subscriber Identification Modulation (SIM) law, L.I. 2006.
The High Court in Accra found the arguments of the telecommunications regulator and telecom service provider as unreasonable, hence dismissing their challenge on the capacity of the Consumer Organisation that sued the telcos and the NCA. The challenge by MTN, Vodafone and NCA, therefore, prevented the High Court from hearing the merits of a suit brought by the Consumer Advocacy Center (CAC) against the telecommunication giants and the regulator.
In court, Mr. Justice Daniel Mensah ruled that the Consumer Advocacy Center has the capacity to sue the defendants and thereby dismissed the application by the telcos. The court consequently awarded cost against the defendants and directed them to open their defence on the matter before the court.
CAC, the local chapter of Consumer International (C.I) had sued MTN, Vodafone, AirtelTigo, Globacom and NCA for abusing the law on SIM Card registration in the country and are demanding that the court issues directives to compel the listed institutions to comply with the law L.I 2006.
The suit by the Consumer group was estopped in the court last year, and prevented from being heard, when MTN, supported by Vodafone and NCA filed a motion calling for the dismissal of the consumers’ petition. Lawyers for MTN had argued that the consumers had not shown cause for which reason the merits of the case must be heard in a trial.
This objection dragged the case until Justice Daniel Mensah finally ruled today, in the forenoon, disallowing the impediment put in the way of the matter and directing NCA, MTN and Vodafone to open their defense on the substantive suit to enable a full trial.
The Consumer Center filed the case in May 2019 pleading for “an order directed at the defendants to deactivate all SIM cards which have not been lawfully registered.”
CAC also want the court to order the Telcos to register SIM cards at designated offices which should be well equipped to verify data produced by the clients.
Why did CAC file the suit?
In a statement, CAC said, it “found it necessary to institute this legal step to force the stakeholders in the mobile telephony market to conform to the dictates of L.I 2006 and thereby avoid the situation of having improperly registered SIM cards in the industry.”
“Consumers in Ghana are losing millions of Cedis to criminals who have invaded the telephony market via fraudulently acquired SIM cards, which are activated by the network providers to enable the criminals contact and dupe unsuspecting consumers within the market.
“The lives of others are being threatened on a daily basis by criminals with such illegally registered SIM cards without a trace to these criminals.
“It is our considered opinion that these criminal activities are possible as a result of violations and sidestepping brought about by the flagrant disregard for LI 2006,” CAC wrote.