Tribunal Fixes Sept. For MultiChoice Tariff Hike Judgment

A Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal sitting in Abuja has fixed September 6 for judgment in a suit filed against MultiChoice, the operator of Gotv and DStv, over the recent price hike on their products and subscription rates.

The tribunal, headed by Mr. Thomas Okosun, fixed the date on Monday after counsel for the parties presented their arguments for and against the matter.

The tribunal had, on June 20, granted Festus Onifade’s reliefs in an application seeking leave to amend his earlier originating summons and deem it to have been properly filed.

The lawyer, in the latest originating summons, is suing the firm, the operators of DStv and Gotv, for N10m damages.

Onifade, in the amended originating summons dated June 17 but filed June 20, also sought the order of the tribunal directing and mandating MultiChoice to adopt a pay-as-you-view model of billing for all its products and services forthwith.

The claimants; Onifade, a legal practitioner, and Coalition of Nigeria Consumers, on behalf of himself and others, had sued the company and Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission as 1st and 2nd respondents, shortly after the company, on March 22, announced its plan to increase price of its products from April 1.

They had prayed the tribunal for an order, restraining the firm from increasing its services and other products on April 1, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice dated and filed on March 30, and the tribunal granted the ex-parte motion, directing parties to maintain status quo ante bellum.

But despite the tribunal’s order, the company was alleged to have gone ahead with the price increase on DStv and Gotv subscriptions.

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On April 11, the tribunal again ordered MultiChoice to revert back to the old prices by maintaining status quo of its March 30 order, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.

But counsel for MultiChoice, Jamiu Agoro, in a motion in notice on Thursday, challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the matter.

The prayers, according to the lawyer, include “an order for stay of execution of the order of the Honourable Tribunal made on March 30, pending the determination of the instant application; an order setting aside and discharging the order of the CCPT made on March 30 in this present suit.

“An order of the honourable tribunal striking out the suit in limine for want of jurisdiction by the tribunal, and for such further order or other orders as this Honourable Tribunal may deem fit to make in the circumstances.”

In his six grounds enumerated, Agoro argued that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit as the claimants lacked the competence to institute the action.

The tribunal then adjourned the matter until Monday to take the substantive suit and the defendants’ responses.

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