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Multichoice Questions Tribunal’s Authority Amid Controversy Surrounding Price Hike Restraining Order

Multichoice Nigeria has taken a bold stance, challenging the jurisdiction of the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal in Abuja regarding its recent order restraining the company from implementing price increases on its DStv and GOtv packages.

Representing Multichoice, lawyer Moyosore Onigbanjo filed an application on April 30, contesting the tribunal’s authority to issue the restraining order dated April 29.

During the court proceedings, Onigbanjo emphasized the need for the tribunal to decline jurisdiction over the case initiated by Festus Onifade, citing precedent favoring Multichoice in similar price dispute cases.

Additionally, Onigbanjo filed a memorandum of conditional appearance on the same date, underscoring the importance of addressing jurisdictional matters before proceeding with other aspects of the case.

In response, lawyer M. Adeke, representing the FCCPC, sought an adjournment to allow the commission to respond comprehensively to all applications served on it.

Onigbanjo also requested an adjournment to address fresh processes served by Festus Onifade, reiterating the primacy of resolving jurisdictional issues before moving forward.

Notably, Festus Onifade, the plaintiff who brought Multichoice before the CCPT, did not oppose the adjournment application, leading the tribunal, presided over by Thomas Okosun, to schedule the next hearing for May 16.

Previously, Onifade had initiated contempt charges against Mohammed Sani, Manager of the Abuja office of Multichoice Nigeria Ltd, alleging non-compliance with the tribunal’s order in a Notice of Consequence of Disobedience to Order of Court.

In a motion on notice dated May 7, Onifade sought further action, requesting the tribunal to compel Multichoice to pay a sum of N1 billion for disregarding the interim order issued on April 29.

Onifade detailed instances of Multichoice’s alleged disobedience to court orders, spanning back to previous cases in 2015, 2018, and 2022, emphasizing the company’s recurrent pattern of non-compliance.

He argued that Multichoice’s actions constitute a deliberate affront to the tribunal’s jurisdiction and inflict undue hardship on consumers.

Given the gravity of the situation, Onifade urged the tribunal to exercise its discretionary powers in the interest of justice, emphasizing the necessity of enforcing compliance with its orders.

This legal saga unfolds against the backdrop of the tribunal’s interim order on April 29, restraining Multichoice from implementing planned price hikes on DStv and GOtv services pending the resolution of the ongoing case.

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