Tariff Increment: Lawyer, Group Bicker with MultiChoice

MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, the operator of DStv and Gotv, and a lawyer, Festus Onifade, have disagreed over the firm’s motion contesting the tribunal’s jurisdiction in a complaint filed against it.

In a counter-affidavit submitted before the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection (FCCPC) Tribunal in Abuja, Onifade and the Coalition of Nigeria Consumers (CNC) called MultiChoice’s requests “incongruous.”

MultiChoice and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) are the first and second defendants, respectively, while Onifade and CNC are the first and second claimants.

The corporation asked the three-member tribunal headed by Thomas Okosun for an injunction delaying execution of the order it made on April 11 pending the resolution of the instant application in a motion on notice dated April 13 and filed April 14 by Toyin Pinheiro, SAN.

It also asked for an order to set aside and discharge the tribunal’s April 11 order, which it claimed was imposed without jurisdiction.

The motion was brought pursuant to Sections 39(1) and (2) and Section 47 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection (FCCP) Act 2018, and under the tribunal’s inherent authority, according to MultiChoice, which provided five reasons why its application should be examined.

The company said it filed an application on March 31 challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal and that while the application was
pending and yet to be determined, “this honourable court made an order on the April 11, directing the applicant to maintain status-quo antebellum which in effect directs the applicant to comply with the order of the Tribunal of March 30.”

But in the counter affidavit, marked: CCPT/OP/1/2022, dated and filed April 26 by Onifade and CNC and deposed to by the lawyer, the claimants argued that the prayers in the application filed by the firm were similar to the one it earlier filed on March 31, “and know that both prayers are incongruous.”

The claimants stated that, contrary to MultiChoice’s submission, the tribunal’s April 11 order was made according to the panel’s inherent powers.

They said that the order of March 30 made by the tribunal in which the company was restrained from increasing its tariffs for the DStv and Gotv packages pending the hearing and determination of the suit predated the claim by the firm in its March 31 motion that “the act of increment is a complete act.”

“That contrary to Paragraph 5 of the affidavit in support of the motion on notice, the order of this Honourable Tribunal of April 11. asking parties to maintain status quo ante bellum was to protect and preserve the integrity of the tribunal.

“That contrary to Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the motion, there are two motions pending before the Tribunal namely; the motion dated April 13, and the motion on notice dated March 3, both seeking similar reliefs,” they argued.

The claimants further stated in a written address accompanied to the counter affidavit that the tribunal’s March 30 ruling intended to preserve the res (subject matter) pending the hearing and determination of the case.

“Unfortunately, it is this res (the increase in price) that the 1st defendant/applicant (MultiChoice) had claimed in its motion on notice dated March 31 that it is a ‘Completed Act’.

“It is our opinion that where either of the parties take any steps or alter their position during the pendency of this motion, such party will be overreaching the tribunal/court or acting in contempt of the orders of the tribunal,” they said.

READ ALSO: Buhari Makes U-turn to Twitter After Ten Months

The claimants further stated in a written address accompanied to the counter affidavit that the tribunal’s March 30 ruling intended to preserve the res (subject matter) pending the hearing and determination of the case.

According to them, one of the fulcrums of the claimants’ case is the upcoming price hike, which we believe is correct.

“If the tribunal permits either of the parties to alter their position, there would be nothing left for the tribunal to determine.

“In the event that the tribunal holds that it has jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter, what will be left?” they asked.

According to the plaintiffs, this event would result in the tribunal “acting in void” because “one of the subject matters of the complaint would have been dissipated by the applicant (MultiChoice) even before the application for jurisdiction is determined.”

“We therefore submit that, in light of the facts and circumstances of this case, this Honourable Tribunal has properly, judicially, and judiciously exercised its discretionary powers in the interests of justice by requesting that the parties maintain the status quo ante bellum.”

“This position will not only preserve the res, it also preserves the integrity of the Tribunal as the DOMINIS (umpire) in this suit,” they argued.

Police Arrests Nine Suspected Kidnappers in Ekiti

According to NAN, the tribunal ordered MultiChoice to revert to its former package tariffs, which were allegedly hiked on April 1, until the hearing and determination of the substantive matter on April 11.

The matter was then scheduled to be heard on May 5.

On March 30, the tribunal had granted Onifade’s ex-parte motion, which sought an order prohibiting the firm from raising its services and other products on April 1 until the hearing and decision of the application on notice.

The corporation said on March 21 that, beginning April 1, it would raise the membership prices for its packages, citing inflation and business operations as reasons for the rise.

Leave a Reply