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Native Consortium pierces mobile companies in court

March 29, 2021

By Alhaji Haruna Sani

Edmond Abu Jnr. Executive Director,Native Consortium

The High Court in Freetown has ordered Orange and Africell mobile companies (first and second defendant) respectively to pay Le 100,000,000 Leones to Native consortium and 299 other plaintiffs.

The Executive Director of the Consortium told newsmen at a press conference held last week at their Siaka Steven street office in Freetown.

He said the case arose as a result of complaints about poor service provided by Sierra Tel, 1st and 2nd defendants by his organization and 299 others to the 4th defendant (NATCOM) since April 1st 2017.

He added that an agreement of increasing the tariff from Le410 to Le650 with a condition of delivering standard and quality network services was reached between the consumer protection agency and the companies, but that they failed to honour their own part of the bargain.

He said they supposed to have reverted to Le 410 since they couldn’t meet the demands set in the agreement.

Abu said after some months his organization brought some experts from France to assess the services provided by the mobile networks, which they did and proved that it was substandard.

 He added that Native Consortium even went further to conduct a national perception survey on assessment of the networks, which also proved the networks services to be very poor.

He said a formal complaint was lodged to the former and late NATCOM boss, Momoh Conteh who slammed a penalty on the mobile companies, urging them all to give 72 hours free calls and that Orange should pay USSD 750000, Aricell USSD 450000 and Sierratel USSD 20000o.

He added that only Sierratel complied with the 72 hours free calls, but was not aware whether they paid the fine.

He maintained that notwithstanding their complaints, the 4th defendant (NATCOM) failed to take appropriate steps against the mobile companies to improve their services and the failure is continuing. And the 4th defendant also failed to comply with its statutory duty to regulate the three defendants in accordance with its statutory duties. The plaintiff then subsequently commenced an action in 2018 which is now the subject matter in action.

Speaking at the press conference, Native Consortium boss told newsmen that his organization together with 299 others filed for the court to give an interim order against Africell, Orange, and Sierratel to revert the tariff on voice calls from Le 650 to Le 410 per minute because they failed to comply to the agreement of upgrading their network services.

Edmond said according to the Judge’s Rule, the second defendant (Orange) should pay Le 80, 000.

 He said Africell has 50 plaintiff against them because out of 300 plaintiffs 250 (80%) was in respect of Orange, while the 50 (20%) other plaintiff was in respect of Africell hence they should pay Le 20, 000, 000 as damage to the plaintiff.

Native Consortium and others should pay Le 2,000, 000 as cost to the 4th defendant (NATCOM) as assessed summarily as cost.

Edmond compares their tremendous success against the giant mobile companies as to the Biblical story of “David killed Goliath” which he interprets in the Sierra Leone Pidgin as “Okroo Dog Kill Lepet”

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