The Chief Magistrates Court in Mengo has asked telecom companies to file their defence in a suit against them over retaining dormant mobile money and airtime deposits.
Early this week, a one Gideon Tugume filed a suit before the court demanding that four telecom companies: MTN, Airtel, UTL and Africell to display in newspapers mobile money and airtime balances on dormant SIM cards whose owners have died.
In summons by the court, the four companies have been asked to file their defence within 15 days from Wednesday.
“You are hereby required to file a defence in this court within 15 days from the date of service of summons on you in the manner prescribed,” reads in part the directive by the Mengo Chief Magistrates court dated February 20.
The court has also warned the telecom companies that it would proceed to hear the suit and determine it in their absence in case they fail to file defence within the stipulated time.
In his suit, Tugume claims that on many occasions, subscribers to the telecom companies have died and after three months, their SIM cards are given to new subscribers yet the deceased’s mobile money and airtime are retained .
“Surprisingly even if one goes outside the country for study, work or to do anything beyond three months, all the money and airtime on the SIM card is retained by the defendants.”
The petitioner argues that it is illegal for the telecom companies to retain billions of money for a number of people who have died.
He cites an example of people who perished last year when MV Templar, a boat they were travelling on capsized at Mutima beach in Lake Victoria but the whereabouts of their mobile money have never been known.
In his suit, Tugume says the unclaimed mobile money and airtime must either be given back to the relatives of the deceased or remitted to the government consolidated fund.