Justice Yelim Bogoro of the Federal High Court in Lagos has issued an order restraining MTN Nigeria Communications Plc and its affiliate, ATC Nigeria Wireless Infrastructure Ltd, from overpopulating the environment with base stations. This order remains effective for MTN and ATC Nigeria, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US-based American Tower, until the determination of the motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction filed by the civil society organization, HEDA Resource Centre,leadership reports.
HEDA Resource Centre, a civil society organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development and environmental protection, brought a public interest case seeking an injunction to prevent MTN Nigeria and ATC Nigeria from establishing new base stations in proximity to existing ones due to health and environmental concerns.
Justice Bogoro initially issued the order on November 21, 2023, and reaffirmed it on December 7, 2023, during the hearing of the case (HEDA and FMEEM & 4 Ors, with suit number FHC/L/CS/2359/2023). The judge granted the prayers of the applicant and ordered the fourth and fifth defendants to refrain from commencing, continuing, or completing the construction of base trans-receiver stations/towers/masts (BTS) near existing BTS operated by IHS. The order also restricted MTN Nigeria from moving or relocating its telecommunication equipment to any site near IHS’ existing BTS.
These orders effectively put on hold MTN’s recently announced project to relocate 2,500 towers from IHS to ATC.
During the proceedings, counsel to MTN Nigeria, Prof Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), sought to set aside the ex parte order, and ATC Nigeria’s counsel, Nicholas Okafor, attempted to move a preliminary objection. However, the court did not hear the objection as there was no proof of service to the applicant or other parties in the suit.
Kunle Adegoke (SAN), representing HEDA, urged the court to instruct all parties to maintain the status quo ante pending the court’s rulings, and the court directed counsels to advise their clients accordingly. While Prof Ajogwu expressed his compliance, HEDA’s counsel emphasized concerns about the clients potentially proceeding with work despite the injunctive order.
Justice Bogoro adjourned further hearing to February 14, 2024.