A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the extension of the registration deadline for National Identity Number (NIN).

The judge, Maureen Onyetenu, ordered the extension of NIN registration for another two months.

Mrs Onyetenu gave this order on Tuesday while delivering a ruling in a suit filed by human rights lawyer, Monday Ubani.

Mr Ubani earlier filed a lawsuit against the federal government, Attorney General of the Federation, Nigerian Communications Commission, and the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, over the deadline set for NIN registration.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, earlier announced an eight-week extension for Nigerians to enrol for their NIN, PREMIUM TIMES reported.

Following the extension, the registration exercise was to continue till April 6.

Suit

In the suit against the Nigerian government, Mr Ubani contended that the initial two weeks ultimatum; now extended to April 6, 2021, will infringe on the rights of Nigerians as many will be unable to register for NIN.

Given that telecommunication operators have been directed to block SIM Cards of Nigerians who have not registered their sim card with NIN, Mr Ubani prayed the court to extend the deadline.

“It will infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed right of people to freedom of expression, right to own moveable property and right to life,” he said.

Mr Ubani also argued that the ultimatum given to telecommunications operators by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to block all Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards that are not registered with NIN, is grossly inadequate.

“This directive will not only work severe hardship, but will likely infringe on the fundamental rights of the Applicant (and millions of other Nigerians) to freedom of expression as guaranteed by section 39(1)(2) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as violate section 44(1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which prohibits the compulsory acquisition of right or interest over the moveable property,” he said.

Mr Ubani prayed for “an order halting the said ultimatum given by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to telecommunication operators to block all sim cards that are not registered with NIN.”

He also sought a court declaration that in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising cases in Nigeria, the deadline given by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to over 200 million to register for NIN, will lead to a rush, thereby increasing their possibility of contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Answering the prayer of the lawyer, Mrs Onyetenu ordered a two-month extension of NIN registration.

All other prayers made by the applicant were also granted by the judge.

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