Justice Jude Okeke of an FCT High Court in Maitama, Abuja on Wednesday, slammed a fine of N5 million on Airtel Nig. Ltd for violation of customer’s right to privacy.
The plaintiff, Mr Emmanuel Anene on Dec. 21 filed a suit against Airtel for continue disturbances through unsolicited messages to his line. The judge held that the crucial issue that calls for determination here was whether or not that the plaintiff evidence made out a case to justify the claims in the reliefs he sought.
“One of the reliefs sought an order of the court seeks 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 is resolved.
The court records showed that the plaintiff evidence of claims was served on the defendant and led evidence in the support of same.
“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 in 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 solicit for, from the defendant but the defendant did not reply nor do anything about it.
“The plaintiff having purchase the defendant telephone number a contractual relationship is satisfied, the defendant is in violation of the right to the plaintiff privacy.
“The defendant, having received complaints from the plaintiff, but 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 forth going 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 inconviencies, discomfort and the embarrassments the plaintiff had undeniably gone through.
“The defendant has been directed to pay to the plaintiff damages not the N200 million the plaintiff asked for but N5 million only.