Orange, Africel may face ECOWAS Court


December 22, 2021

By Alhaji Haruna Sani

If the judge further continues to delay and deny the consumers justice, our patience will stop in January 2022. We have written to the Chief Justice to draw his attention to section 120 (16) of the 1991 Constitution about the three month period which judges should take to give ruling after a file have been withdrawn for ruling. However, the 300 plaintiffs want to make it unequivocally clear that if the compensation is not reasonable, according to Section 50 and 51 of the Consumer Protection Act of 2014, we shall forward the matter to the ECOWAS Court, said Edmond Abu Junior, Executive Director of Native Consortium and Research Centre.

According to Edmond Abu, Africell and Orange were taken to court by the consortium and 300 litigants, after an open breach of the Bintumani Agreement which they signed on 23rd March, 2017, to provide quality service and in-turn  increase their tariff from Le 410 to Le 650per minute without delivering a commensurate quality service.

He added that the agreement further stipulated that if after four months, which ended in July 2017, the mobile operators fail to improve on their quality of services, NATCOM, which is now the fourth defendant in the court matter, was to instruct Orange and Africell to revert to the former voice tariff (Le 410 per minute) before the 1st April 2017.

“Unfortunately, none of the defendants ever improved on their quality of service, instead Orange and Africell resorted to increasing their tariffs even above the agreed Le 650 per minute as was prescribed by the Bintumani Agreement. We dragged NATCOM to court for breach of their statutory duty as regulator that is supposed to protect consumers,” he explained.

The Executive Director of Native Consortium, Edmond Abu Jnr, has disclosed to newsmen that each and every Orange and Africell subscribers that have been using a registered sim since July 2017 to date, will benefit at least Le 5000,000 (Five Million Leones), if the consortium and 300 litigants win the case against Orange Africell and NATCOM.

The Native Consortium boss said even subscribers who are not using registered sim and those who started using their sim cards after July 2017, will still benefit from the compensatory damages and restitution from the Tele-Communications Companies.

Edmond Abu Junior made the disclosure to newsmen during a press briefing the Consortium held at their Siaka Steven Street Office in Freetown.

“The plaintiff assessment of damages started from August 2017 to August 2021 when the 4 month grace period elapsed. Based on our pleading and the assessment of damages and restitution, if we win this case every sim holder in Sierra Leone, from August 2017 to date, whether dead or alive will be compensated nothing  less than Le 5,000,000 ( Five Million Leones,” he said.

According to the Consortium, the plaintiffs in their pleadings are asking from Africell (first defendant) 61 Billion Leones, and from Orange (second defendant) restitution fee of 112 Billion Leones.

“Additionally, the plaintiffs are asking for a compensation of Le 100 Billion Leones and Le 200 Billion Leones from Africell and Orange respectively for breach of confidentiality by the two companies. They released confidential call logs of plaintiffs to the public without due process during the course of trial.”

The plaintiffs are demanding Orange and Africell to reverse fees for their voice tariff from Le 650 to Le 410 per minute as demanded from their interim interlocutory injunction.