HEDA Seeks to Jail American Tower’s Nigeria CEO for Contempt of Court


Akin Kuponiyi

A non-governmental organisation, the Incorporated Trustees of HEDA Resource Centre (HEDA) has commenced contempt proceedings against the Managing Director of ATC Nigeria, Errol Ambler-Smith.

In a Form 48 filed before  the Federal High Court on Monday 5th February, 2024, HEDA issued a notice of consequences of disobedience of court orders against ATC Nigeria.

Named in the said Form 48 is the Managing Director of ATC Nigeria against whom the warning seems to be directed.

HEDA had in a public interest Suit marked FHC/L/CS/2359/2023 sued the Federal Ministry of Environment, ATC Nigeria Wireless Infrastructure Ltd (ATC Nigeria) and MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTN Nigeria) to stop MTN and ATC from siting new base stations where there are already existing ones in close proximity owing to health and environmental concerns.

The presiding Judge Justice Yellim Bogoro, had on 21st November 2023 issued an  order of injunction against ATC Nigeria, MTN Nigeria and other defendants to restrain them from taking any step towards establishing new masts in close proximity to existing ones in order to avoid health hazard.

The court upheld the prayers of the plaintiff/applicant, (HEDA Resource) and ordered the defendants, ATC Nigeria Wireless Infrastructure Ltd and MTN Nigeria Communications Plc respectively, together with their “ agents, privies and/or assigns from commencing, continuing or completing the construction or installation of any base trans-receiver stations/towers/masts (BTS) within close proximity to IHS’ existing BTS or operating any BTS within close proximity to IHS’ existing BTS pending the determination of the motion on notice.”

The order effectively put on hold the implementation of the 2,500 towers project from IHS to ATC announced by MTN on or around 10th November 2023. The order of injunction was reaffirmed by the court on 7th December 2023.

Filling of the contempt proceedings, may not be unconnected with the alleged violation of the court order.

The court has  adjourned till  14th of February, 2024 for hearing of the  suit.