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Price hike: Tribunal fixes Sept 6 to deliver judgment in suit against Multichoice

Price hike: Tribunal fixes Sept 6 to deliver judgment in suit against Multichoice
July 25
22:47 2022

A Competition and Consumer Protection (CCP) tribunal sitting in Abuja has fixed September 6 to deliver judgment on a suit challenging the price increase by MultiChoice Nigeria Limited.

Multichoice is the owner of the satellite television services, DStv and GOtv — popular subscription-based platforms in Nigeria.

Festus Onifade, a legal practitioner, had sued the company on behalf of himself and the coalition of Nigerian consumers.

While MultiChoice Nigeria Limited is the first defendant, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) is the second respondent.

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Onifade had prayed the tribunal for an order restraining the firm from hiking subscription fees for its services and other products on April 1, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice dated and filed on March 29.

The tribunal had granted an ex parte motion, directing parties to maintain “status quo antebellum” (to maintain the situation as it existed before).

The claimant also raised the issue of contempt, accusing the first defendant of disobeying the tribunal order of March 20, 2022, which restrained them from going ahead with the price increase.

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However, Jamiu Agoro, counsel to MultiChioce, appearing for the first defendant, submitted that his client did not disobey the tribunal.

He argued that MultiChoice had already configured all their devices for the increase in tariff to take effect before the tribunal made its order.

Agoro also said the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit as the claimant lacked the competence to constitute the action.

Upon resumption of the matter on Monday, Agoro submitted to the two-member tribunal presided over by Thomas Okosun that the original summon before the tribunal is “grossly incompetent”.

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He said the tribunal is known and should be addressed as the Competition and Consumer Protection but the original summon was headed with ‘Federal Competition and Consumer Protection’.

Agoro added that there was no evidence presented before the tribunal of damage that the claimant suffered.

On his part, Onifade told the tribunal that the issue raised by the first defendant on the competency of this suit were “mere irregularities”.

He said the tribunal should dis-countenance all the submissions in the first defendant’s counter affidavit, go ahead and assume jurisdiction, and grant of the claimant’s reliefs sought.

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He added one of the most important issues was whether the second defendant truly investigated the petition of the claimant.

The lawyer said while the second defendant claimed in their counter affidavit that they have investigated the petition of the claimant, the first defendant says the matter has not been investigated.

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The tribunal, therefore, fixed judgment for the matter on September 6, 2022.

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