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FCCPC won't oppose MultiChoice price hike, tribunal ruling on June 7

The CCPT restrained MultiChoice from increasing its tariffs on the Dstv and Gotv packages scheduled to take effect from May 1.

DStv-and-GOtv (TheNation)

FCCPC made this known through its lawyer, Nikiomari Abeke, before the three-member panel of the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT) sitting in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the three-member tribunal is chaired by Thomas Okosun.

The CCPT had, on April 29, restrained MultiChoice from increasing its tariffs on the Dstv and Gotv packages scheduled to take effect from May 1, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by Festus Onifade.

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The tribunal, presided over by Saratu Shafii, gave the interim order following an ex-parte motion moved by Ejiro Awaritoma, counsel for the applicant, Onifade. CCPT, thereafter, directed all parties in the suit to appear before it on May 7 at 10 am for the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

Onifade, in the suit marked: CCPT/OP/2/2024 and filed April 29, had dragged MultiChoice and FCCPC before the tribunal. The claimant, also a legal practitioner, sought two orders, including an order of interim injunction restraining the Pay-Tv operator from going ahead with its impending price increase until the determination of the motion on notice.

But MultiChoice, through its lawyer, Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, filed a preliminary objection praying the court to decline jurisdiction in the suit. Onigbanjo argued that such a price dispute case had been decided before in favour of his client.

However, Onifade, in his response, urged the tribunal to discount the company’s objection and direct it to pay the sum of ₦10 billion or any amount the panel might deem fit in the circumstance for deliberately disobeying and failing to comply with the interim order.

When the case was called on Thursday, Onigbanjo tendered and adopted the previous judgement of the tribunal in suit no CCPT/OP/1/2022 as exhibited alongside his application.

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The senior lawyer argued that when a court had already 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.

“Therefore, this tribunal cannot sit on appeal on its decision.

“This tribunal is bound by its own decision in Exhibit A; that it is not the forum where the claimant can come to seek to regulate the prices and services offered by MultiChoice,” he said, urging the tribunal to strike out the suit.

On his part, Onifade argued that the issue he brought did not border on price regulation or increase. He said what he placed before the court was whether the company gave adequate notice in respect of the May 1 subscription price increase.

“It is our submission that the 8-day notice issued by Multichoice Nigeria Ltd is insufficient in law.

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“A monthly subscriber should be given at least a month,” he said, praying the tribunal to dismiss the preliminary objection for being a waste of time of the court.

Counsel for the FCCPC, Abeke, told the CCPT that the commission was not opposing MultiChoice's preliminary objection. According to the lawyer, to that extent, no process or counter was filed to the motion of the first defendant (MultiChoice).

After taking the arguments of the parties, the tribunal adjourned the suit until June 7 for ruling.

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