The Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal has slammed Pay-TV operator, Multichoice Nigeria, owners of DSTV, GOTV, a ₦150 million fine for disputing the court’s jurisdiction.
This is even as the tribunal ordered the company to provide its customers with a one-month free subscription.
The judgement was handed down by a three-man panel led by Thomas Okusu on Friday.
In its ruling, the panel cited section 39(2) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) Act that states that the “tribunal shall have jurisdiction throughout the federation and on all commercial activities aimed at making a profit”.
“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.
The tribunal also held that the claimant’s suit was not questioning the Multichoice price hike as claimed by Onigbanjo, but the illegality of his client’s eight-day notice to the customers.
The tribunal deemed Multichoice’s violation of interim orders and hike in DStv and GOtv prices as unacceptable, noting that it should not be tolerated.
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The tribunal also 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.
“The first defendant is hereby mandated to pay a N150 million penalty,” the verdict rules.
Okosu also ruled that Multichoice is “hereby ordered to give Nigerians one month free subscription”.
The tribunal had previously stopped Multichoice from raising subscription fees without proper notice, based on a lawsuit by Barrister Festus Onifade who claimed the eight-day notice given for the price increase was inadequate.
Onifade had sued DSTV, accusing the Pay-TV of unjustly increasing subscription fees without one month’s notice to customers and leveraging on it to seek interim orders.
Counsel for Multichoice had contended that previous rulings had settled price regulation issues, while Onifade focused on the inadequate notice rather than the price hike itself, prompting the tribunal to affirm its jurisdiction and rule against Multichoice.
The court subsequently fixed July 3 for a hearing of the plaintiff’s substantive suit.
By: Babajide Okeowo

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