Court Stops Installation of Radio Base Stations by MTN, ATC Wireless

Wale Igbintade

A Federal High Court, Lagos, has restrained a Nigerian telecommunications giant, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc and its associate, the ATC Nigeria Wireless Infrastructure Limited, a fully-owned subsidiary of the U.S.-based American Tower, from overcrowding the environment with base stations pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

Justice Yellim Bogoro, who had earlier issued the order, reaffirmed it on December 7, 2023, in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/2359/2023 between HEDA and FMEEM & four others.

The HEDA Resource Centre, a Nigerian civil society group, promoting sustainable development and protection of the environment, had gone to the court to request for an injunction to stop MTN and ATC from siting new base stations where there are already existing ones in close proximity owing to health and environmental concerns.

In the court sitting, the trial judge upheld the prayers of the plaintiff/applicant, the incorporated trustees of the HEDA Resource Centre and ordered the fourth and fifth defendants, ATC Nigeria Wireless Infrastructure Ltd and MTN Nigeria Communications Plc respectively, together with their “servants, agents, privies and/or assigns from commencing, continuing or completing the construction or installation of any base trans-receiver stations/towers/masts (BTS) within close proximity to IHS’ existing BTS or operating any BTS within close proximity to IHS’ existing BTS pending the determination of the motion on notice.”

The judge also ordered the fifth defendant and its agents from moving, relocating, transferring any of its telecommunication equipment to any BTS site being or has been constructed, erected or built by the fourth defendant, which is in close proximity to the IHS’ existing BTS pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

This effectively puts on hold the implementation of the relocation of the 2,500 towers project from IHS to ATC announced by MTN recently until the parties are heard by the judge on February 14, 2024.

At the last hearing, counsel to MTN Nigeria, Professor Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), moved the motion to set aside the ex-parte order and filed a further affidavit and reply to HEDA’s counter-affidavit.

Also, counsel to ATC Nigeria Wireless Infrastructure Ltd, Mr. Nicholas Okafor, sought to move his preliminary objection, which he filed the previous day but the court did not hear it as there was no proof that the said motion was served on the plaintiff/applicant or any other party in the suit.

Mr. Kunle Adegoke (SAN), who represented HEDA, urged the court to direct all parties to the dispute to maintain status quo ante, pending the rulings of the court and the court directed counsel to all the other parties to prevail on their clients on the need to maintain status quo.

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