BREAKING: Tribunal orders Multichoice to give Nigerians one-month free subscription

BREAKING: Tribunal orders Multichoice to give Nigerians one-month free subscription

The Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal, in a recent ruling, imposed a fine of N150 million on Multichoice Nigeria, a leading Pay-TV provider, for disputing the jurisdiction of a court in Abuja.

This court had previously issued an injunction preventing Multichoice from raising prices for its DStv and GOtv packages.

The panel, led by Thomas Okosu, decreed that Multichoice must offer a complimentary one-month subscription to Nigerians for both DSTV and GOTV services. This decision was delivered on Friday by a panel of three members.

As previously reported, the tribunal had initially prohibited MultiChoice from increasing subscription fees until the resolution of a motion filed by Barrister Festus Onifade.

Onifade, who brought a lawsuit against Multi-Choice Nigeria Ltd and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), alleged that Pay TV had raised fees without the required one-month notice to customers. Consequently, he sought interim measures against Pay TV.

In a different case, a tribunal chaired by Saratu Shafii granted an interim injunction in favor of Onifade, preventing Multichoice from implementing a planned price hike set for May 1, 2024. This ruling was made in response to a motion filed in the suit marked CCPT/OP/2/2024.

However, Multichoice’s legal representative, Moyosore .J. Onibanjo (SAN), lodged a preliminary objection urging the court to reject jurisdiction over Festus Onifade’s lawsuit and dismiss it. He argued that a similar pricing dispute had previously been resolved in his client’s favor.

Onibanjo cited the earlier judgment of the tribunal in suit no CCPT/OP/1/2022(Exhibit A) and contended that once a matter has been settled by a court or tribunal, it cannot be revisited. He emphasized that the authority to regulate prices rests with the president of Nigeria, not the Tribunal.

READ ALSO  Protest rocks UI over introduction of 10-hour electricity supply

Contrary to this, Onifade maintained that his concern was whether Multichoice Nigeria had given sufficient notice regarding the subscription fee increase slated for May 1, 2024, rather than the regulation or adjustment of prices.

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.

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

READ ALSO  At your age, I would want younger ones to respect me – Peter Obi replies Soyinka

“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 *