JUSTICE Jude Okeke of an FCT High Court yesterday slammed a fine of N5million on Airtel Nig Ltd for violation of customer’s right to privacy. The plaintiff, Mr. Emmanuel Anene on December 21 filed a suit against Airtel for continuous disturbances through unsolicited messages to his line. The judge held that the crucial issue that called for determination was whether or not the plaintiff’s evidence made out a case to justify the claims in the reliefs he sought. He said, “One of the reliefs sought an order of the court seeking for the award of damages. “A plaintiff who seeks for a violation of right is to succeed on the strength of his case and not on the weakness or absence of the defence, though he can rely on the absence of the defence to support his case.” He said the burden of proof could shift from party to party until the issue in contention was resolved. The court records showed that the plaintiff’s evidence of claims was served on the defendant and led evidence in the support of same. He said, “The defendant who was afforded the opportunity failed to file statement of defence contradicting the plaintiff’s statement of claim or fails to lead evidence in challenge to the claims; it means he had admitted the facts. “Unless the court does not believe in the evidence or sees any reason contrary in law it reserves a duty to act on such. The defendant failed to place any evidence on the other scale of balance; there is nothing against in which the plaintiff’s evidence can be weighed.” Okeke held that the plaintiff complained about disturbances and distractions, which he did not solicit for, from the defendant, but the defendant did not reply or do anything about it. “The plaintiff having purchased the defendant’s telephone number, a contractual relationship is satisfied; the defendant is in violation of the right to the plaintiff’s privacy. The defendant, having received complaints from the plaintiff, continued to disturb the plaintiff from quiet enjoyment of the line. “In every wrong there must be a remedy; to vindicate the plaintiff’s right which has been violated in the forthgoing circumstance by the defendant, the plaintiff shall be awarded damages based on the discretion of the court. Against this background, putting into consideration the obvious inconveniences, discomfort and the embarrassments the plaintiff had undeniably gone through, the defendant has been directed to pay to the plaintiff, damages, not the N200million the plaintiff asked for, but N5million only.”


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