Sim card re-registration case: nine applicants discontinue court action following NIA disclosure

Nine Ghanaian citizens who filed a court action against the Attorney General and the National Communications Authority (NCA), seeking an interlocutory injunction against them from going ahead to implement the 30 September 2022 deadline for sim card re-registration in Ghana, have discontinued their application.

The application was premised on the argument that the applicants had applied for Ghana Cards at various times but were yet to receive their identity cards.

Consequently, should the court allow the state and the NCA to adhere to the re-registration deadline, they risked losing their SIM cards through no fault of theirs, they argued.

NCA request letter

The applicants’ decision to discontinue their case followed the response by the National Identification Authority (NIA) to a search letter, written to the NIA by counsel for the NCA, Gary Nimako Marfo, requesting the NIA. The letter requested the Authority to furnish the NCA with detailed information on the status of the Ghana Card application of each of all the nine applicants.

The NIA response to the NCA, dated 28 September 2022, signed by the executive secretary of the NIA, Professor Kenneth Agyemang Attafuah, and copied to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, revealed that all nine applicants had indeed applied for a Ghana Card.

However, each of the applicants had failed to pick up her card, which had been processed and printed, at the various locations from where they had been asked to do so.

NCA deposition

Following the NIA’s response to the letter from the NCA’s lawyer, an affidavit deposed to by one Kofi Ntim Yeboah-Kordieh, principal manager at the Regulatory Administration Division of the NCA, among others, is quoted as saying:

“From the response given in Exhibit NCA 2 (NIA’s response), it is clear that the substantive action including the present application for injunction is frivolous, bereft of merit and same is merely intended to vex the respondents.

“That again, it is clear that the applicants have been indolent and have not taken any positive steps to collect their Ghana Cards from the National Identification Authority. That this is a proper case where this Honourable Court ought to dismiss this application with punitive cost,” Yeboah-Kordieh said in his deposition.

Applicant reliefs sought

In their application filed on 22 September 2022, the applicants were seeking seven reliefs.

First, they sought a declaration that the impugned directive of the respondents requiring the applicants to re-register their mobile phone sim with the Ghana Card as the only identity document, at a time when the National Identification Authority had not been able to issue Ghana Cards to applicants, was in breach of Articles 21, 23 and 296 of the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana, the National Communications Authority Act 2008 (Act 769), the Subscriber Identity Module Registration Regulation 2011 (LI 2006) and the National Identity Register Regulation 2012 (LI 2111) and so, to that extent, null and void.

Second, they wanted a declaration that the impugned directives of the respondents, on the use of the applicants’ mobile phone sim cards and network services, imposing punitive measures/sanctions commencing 5 September 2022, breach Articles 21, 23 and 296 of the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana, the National Communications Authority Act 2008 (Act 769), the Subscriber Identity Module Registration Regulation 2011 (LI 2006) and the National Identity Register Regulation 2012 (LI 2111) and so, to that extent, were null and void.

Third, the applicants sought a declaration that the impugned directives of the respondents to applicants’ mobile telecommunication companies to block, disconnect, deactivate, churn and/or in any other way or manner limit the use of the applicants’ mobile phone sim cards and network services by 30 September 2022, at a time when there was no reasonable possibility of applicants receiving their Ghana Cards from the National Identification Authority on or before 30 September 2022 for the purpose of using the identity cards to register their sim cards, was unfair, unreasonable, contrary to law and to that extent, unenforceable.

Fourth, the applicants sought an order of the court in the nature of certiorari directed at respondents to bring before the court for the purpose of being quashed any order, decision, policy and/or directive issued to mobile telecommunication companies operating in Ghana to block, disconnect, deactivate, restrict and/or in any other way or manner limit the use of the applicants’ mobile phone sim cards and network services, unless applicants register or re-register the said sim cards on or before 30 September 2022.

Fifth, the nine applicants sought an order of the court in the nature of certiorari directed at respondents to bring before the high court for the purpose of being quashed any order, decision, policy and/or directive issued to mobile telecommunications companies operating in Ghana to impose punitive measures/sanctions against applicants’ mobile phone sim cards and network services during the period commencing 5 September 2022.
Sixth, they requested the court to issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, whether acting by themselves or through agents, workmen, contractors and subcontractors, associates, as well as any and all such person or persons, from claiming and/or deriving authority through and/or under any or all of the respondents named in the application from imposing punitive measures. The potential sanctions included blocking, deactivating, restricting, churning and/or in any other way or manner limiting the applicants’ use of their mobile phone sim cards and network services.

The applicants desired the injunction to remain in place until such time as the National Identification Authority would make available to the applicants their Ghana Cards.

Finally, they prayed the court to issue any further order, relief or reliefs as might seem just to it.

Following the applicants’ decision to discontinue the case, the court did not sit on the matter at all.

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