in , ,

Multichoice To Pay #150M For Challenging Court Jurisdiction, Ordered To Make DSTV, GOTV Subscription Free

The Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal has fined prominent Pay-Tv operator, Multichoice Nigeria, N150 million for challenging the jurisdiction of a court sitting in Abuja that recently restrained it from increasing the prices of its DStv and GOtv packages.

The verdict delivered by three of the panel led by Thomas Okosu on Friday also ordered Multichoice to give Nigerians a one-month free subscription on DSTV and GOTV. the tribunal had restrained MultiChoice from increasing its subscription rates pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice filed by Barrister Festus Onifade.

Onifade, who sued Multi-Choice Nigeria Ltd, and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

(FCCPC), accused Pay TV of unjustly increasing subscription fees without one-month notice to customers and leveraging on it to seek interim orders against Pay TV.

A three-member tribunal chaired by Saratu Shafii had ruled in favour of Onifade by restraining Multichoice in the  interim, in the suit marked CCPT/OP/2/2024, restraining the pay TV from going ahead with the impending price increase scheduled to take effect from 1st May 2024 pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

See also  Traditional Ruler, Lady Arrested For Allegedly Beating 9-Yr-Old House Help To Death, Burning Her Corpse In Enugu

But Multichoice lawyer, Moyosore .J. Onibanjo (SAN) filed a preliminary objection urging the court to decline jurisdiction on the suit filed by Festus Onifade and strike it out because such a price dispute case had been decided before in favour of his client.

Onibanjo also tendered and adopted the previous judgement of the tribunal in suit no CCPT/OP/1/2022(Exhibit A), alongside his application, saying when a court has determined an issue between the same parties on the same subject matter before, that matter cannot be re-litigated again by any tribunal or court.

He stressed that the power to regulate prices is vested in the president of Nigeria, adding that the Tribunal is not the forum where the claimant can come to seek to regulate the prices and services offered by Multichoice.

On his part, Onifade argued that the issue he placed before the court is  whether Multichoice Nigeria gave adequate notice in respect of the May 1, 2024 price TV subscription increase, and not price regulation or increase.

“It is our submission that the 8-day notice issued by Multichoice Nigeria  is insufficient in law. A monthly subscriber should be given at least a month.

See also  Shocks As Wednesday Football Penalty Awarded Against Nigeria Kills Delta APC Chieftain

“Dismiss this application (by Multichoice )for being a waste of time of the court,” Onifade prayed.

Onifade also asked the Tribunal to direct Multi-choice Nigeria Limited to pay the sum of N1,000,000,000.00 (One Billion Naira only) or any amount the Tribunal deem may fit appropriate in this circumstance for “deliberately disobeying, contravening, and failure to comply with the Interim Order of this Honourable Tribunal granted on the 29th April 2024.”

Counsel for the FCCPC, Nikiomari Abeke,  told the CCPT that he was not opposing the application of Multichoice Nigeria but would abide by the direction of the tribunal regarding all the processes before it.

How the judge ruled
On Friday, the three-man panel chaired by Justice Thomas Okosu held that Section 39(2) of the FCCPC Act states that the tribunal shall have jurisdiction throughout the federation and on all commercial activities aimed at making a profit.

“The jurisdiction of this tribunal extends to all business activities within Nigeria,” Okosu said.

He said he looked at relevant provisions cited by parties and did not find where an aggrieved consumer who seeks to enforce his rights is required to file a complaint to the President of Nigeria or the Price Control Board.

See also  See The 3 Sons Of Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh Killed By IDF Strike In Gaza Strip

The judge also observed that the claimant wrote letters to the FCCPC before filing his case.

“I have come to the conclusion that this tribunal has the jurisdiction to preside over consumer rights as in the instant case and I resolve this issue against Multichoice,” the judge said.

Besides, the tribunal held that the claimant’s instant suit is not questioning the Multichoice price hike as claimed by Onibanjo but the illegality of his client’s8-days notice to the customers.

The Tribunal noted that Multichoice has already disobeyed its interim orders, adding that its action of hiking DSTV and GOTV prices is condemnable and must not be condoned by the Tribunal.

The tribunal dismissed Multichoice’s preliminary objection for disobeying its interim orders.

Subsequently, the Tribunal imposed an administrative penalty on Multichoice for failing to comply with an order of the tribunal

“The first defendant is hereby mandated to pay N150 million penalty.

“Multichoice is hereby ordered to give Nigerians one month free subscription.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Credible Information Have Emerged From Killing Of 5 Soldiers In Aba – Gov Otti Opens Up

Minimum wage: Labour Slams Govs For Rejecting N60K, May Resume Strike On Monday