Controversial lawyer, Male Mabirizi has dragged two telecom companies to court over the recent internet shut down during the concluded presidential and parliamentary elections.
Government on Monday restored internet connection five days after a total shutdown that blocked communication and digital services among Ugandans during the elections.
In his suit in the civil division of the High Court in Kampala, Mabirizi accuses MTN Uganda and Airtel of consuming his data bundles when internet was off for five days.
“On 11th January 2021, I purchased a 3GB for 3 days data bundle from the second respondent for my telephone number 0701447732 via Transaction ID No. 49150362274 which was to run up to 14th January 2021. On 12th January 2021, I purchased 1.5 GB weekly internet bundle for my telephone number 0779869880 from the first respondent which was to expire on 19th January 2021,” Mabirizi says in his affidavit.
The lawyer argues that on January 12, two days to the polls, he realized he was not able to access social media platforms of Twitter and Facebook to which he was told that government had ordered telecom companies to disconnect them.
He adds that a day later, on January,13, he realized he could not access the entire internet as the connection had been cut off.
“Despite the above disconnections, the respondents respectively continued consuming the data bundles as if the situation was normal and on 14th January 2021, the second respondent cut off my bundles followed by the first respondent on19 th January 2021,” he avers.
Mabirizi says that he is sure he is not the only person who was affected by the actions of the two telecom companies, adding that those other persons also deserve compensation.
“The logical thing the respondents ought to have done was to extend the expiry date of the data bundles for the days the internet was off because indeed, the respondents sold no internet when it was shut down. The action of the respondents amounted to an expropriation of mine and other respondents’ subscribers’ property without compensation.”
The lawyer now wants court to declare that the actions of the two telecom companies to consume his and other subscribers’ internet data bundle between January 12 and 18, 2021 when social media platforms and the entire internet were shut down infringes on their right to property.
“The applicant asks court to issue a permanent injunction restraining the respondents from any further or future consumption of the applicant’s and other subscribers’ internet data bundles when social media platforms and the entire internet are shut down,” the court documents read.
“The applicant seeks an order compelling the respondents to refund the applicant’s and other subscribers’ internet data bundles between January 12 and 18,2021 when social media platforms and the entire internet were shut down.”