Court joins NCC as defendant over Airtel’s alleged illegal promo

The Lagos court adjourned till April 29.

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday joined the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, as defendant in a suit seeking the
revocation of the operating licence of Airtel Nigeria Limited for alleged promo of illegal lottery.

Justice Saliu Saidu, ruling on the motion filed by a plaintiff, Benjamin Owiadolor, also joined the National Lottery Regulation
Commission, NLRC; Consumer Protection Council, CPC; and Secure Electronic Technology Plc as co-defendants in the suit.

The judge also ordered Airtel to provide the call logs of Mr. Owiadolor in court for the period stated.

The plaintiff had filed the suit in August 2010 urging the court to order Airtel (then Celtel) to refund to all affected customers sums
expended by those who participated in the promo known as “wake up a millionaire”.

He alleged that the said promo was fraudulent and meant to rid subscribers of their monies.

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The plaintiff, in his statement of claim, averred that sometime in April 2009, Celtel had embarked on a promo wherein it solicited and
encouraged subscribers to make a minute telephone call to other subscribers on Airtel network and enjoy another free one minute call.

He added that on April 25, 2009, he had very important commercial transactions with business associates and friends which required
lengthy telephone conversations and at about 12 a.m., he made a number of telephone calls, which were all disrupted by the defendant at exactly 1.01 minutes.
Owiadolor stressed that the continued disruption of his calls by Airtel caused him frustration and led to the loss of the business
transaction worth millions of naira.

The plaintiff alleged that Celtel had deliberately programmed its system to truncate calls at the commencement of the subsequent minute to ensure that customers did not enjoy the free one minute call it promised.

He averred that he then wrote a letter to Airtel warning that no unsolicited text messages should further be sent to him, adding that
to his surprise, he was still bombarded with over 200 inciting and inducing promotional text messages, some of which were received at midnight.

He said that the action by Airtel contravened the provisions of the NLRC Act and the Lotteries and Pools Betting Laws of Lagos State.

The plaintiff, therefore, sought an order of court to declare the said promo illegal since it was embarked upon by Airtel without first
obtaining the requisite licence from the NLRC.

Mr. Owodialor is therefore claiming N1 million as special and general damages against Airtel for the mental and physical disturbances as well as untold trauma he suffered as a result of the invasion of his privacy through the sending of unwarranted text messages by Airtel.

Meanwhile, Airtel in its statement of defence insisted that the “wake up a millionaire promo” was not illegally organised as necessary
regulatory approvals were secured from the NLRC before it embarked on it.

The company added that the promo was not intended to mislead or defraud the plaintiff or any other participant of their money.

It described the suit as vexatious, frivolous and an abuse of court process, and therefore urged the court to dismiss it with substantial

Justice Saidu adjourned the case to April 29.


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