By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
A Federal High Court, Abuja Division, yesterday, maintained that the August 20, exparte order restraining MultiChoice Nigeria Ltd, from going ahead with its recent move to increase the subscription tariffs for its cable television, DSTV, still subsists.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba gave the order following an exparte motion filed by the Consumer Protection Council(CPC) alongside an originating summon marked FHC/ABJ/CS/894/18, against the MultiChoice.
The Plaintiff premised the suit on the provisions of Section 10 and 16 of the Consumer Protection Council Act, Cap c25, LFN 2004.
CIC approached the court sequel to the announcement of MultiChoice Nigeria, in July that from August 1, 2018, of a new monthly subscription rates for the DSTV Premium package from N14,700 to N15,800 (about 7.5 per cent) Compact Plus from N9,900 to N10,650; Compact bouquet from N6,300 to N6,800; Family from N3,800 to N4,000, and Access from N1,900 to N2,000.
The August 20th interim injunction, specifically restrained the Multichoice Nigeria or its agents and representatives from continuing the implementation of any increase in subscription rates or price review policy imposing increased charges and costs on the consumers pending the determination of the motion on notice.
The order further restrained DSTV from further carrying on or continuing any conduct or activity which interferes with or has effect of circumventing the outcome of ongoing investigations by the CPC into the company’s compliance or non-compliance with the February 16, 2016 order pending the determination of the motion on notice.
At the resumption of the matter yesterday, counsel to CPC, Babatunde Irukera, informed the presiding Judge that MultiChoice had issued a public statement to the effect that it would not obey the court order.
He complained to the court about the conduct of MultiChoice in respect of the interim restraining order made on August 20, directing the defendant to revert to status quo with respect to a material term between MultiChoice and its subscribers.
“My lord, the evidence is that the defendant has declined to comply with the order of court. The definition of MultiChoice is express, not circumstantial.
“In a public statement, MultiChoice characterized the court order as an affront, and repeatedly said to subscribers who tried to renew their subscriptions pursuant to the court order that it will not, and has no intention of obeying the order,” Irukera who doubles as CPC’s Director General stated.
He went ahead and informed the court that he was in possession of the affidavit evidence.
Responding to the averment of the Plaintiff, counsel to the defendant, M. J. Onibanjo SAN, denied that there was such a publication, but, he however, insisted that the plaintiff ought to have brought a formal complaint.
However, Onibanjo had earlier, informed the court that he filed a motion on notice together with a notice of appeal seeking stay of proceedings and execution of the order exparte.
In a short ruling, the vacation judge restated that it’s order of August 20, “still subsists and in force”, adding that CPC knows what to do if an opposing party in a suit flouts a valid order of court.
The judge further warned the defendant against taking any step that will over reach the court.
Meantime, the matter has been adjourned to September 3, for hearing.