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Alleged contempt: Consumers ask Tribunal to commit MultiChoice MD, directors to prison

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Claimants have prayed a Federal Competition and Consumer Protection (FCCPC) Tribunal to commit the Managing Director of MultiChoice Nigeria Ltd, John Ugbe, to prison for alleged disregard to its order.

The claimants filed a suit filed against MultiChoice Nigeria Limited over its recent decision to increase its tariffs and cost of products from April 1.

The applicants; Festus Onifade, a legal practitioner, and Coalition of Nigeria Consumers, also prayed the tribunal to direct the firm’s directors to come and show cause why they should not be committed to a correctional entre.

They had sued the company and Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) as 1st and 2nd respondents respectively before the Tribunal sitting in Abuja.

The tribunal had, on March 30, ordered MultiChoice to maintain a status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice.

This followed a motion ex-parte filed by the claimants to restrain it from increasing the prices of DStv and Gotv subscription.

The claimants, in a motion on notice marked: CCPT/OP/1/2022 dated and filed April 8 by Onifade on others, asked the three-member tribunal headed by Thomas Okosun for an order directing the managing director and the directors of the 1st defendant/respondent to appear before the Tribunal and show cause why they should not be committed to prison for willful disobedience of the order of this Honourable Tribunal granted on the March 30.

They sought for an order of the Tribunal, directing the managing director and directors of the Multi-choice to pay 10 per cent of its annual turnover for contravention or failure to comply with the order.

The applicants, who also asked the tribunal for alternative prayer, urged the panel for an order commanding and mandating MultiChoice to revert the price of all its products and services back to the price being charge before April 1.

They said the application was brought pursuant to Section 51 (1) and 2 of the FCCPC Act, 2018 and under the in here my jurisdiction of the tribunal.

The lawyer said he was a loyal and long time customer of MultiChoice with DStv account number: 41353565835.

But MultiChoice, through its lawyer, Jamiu Agoro, in a motion on notice, argued that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Agoro urged the tribunal to make an order for stay of execution of the March 30 order, pending the hearing and determination of the matter.

The firm prayed for an “order setting aside and discharging the order of the FCCPC made on March 30 in this present suit”.

The lawyer, who indicated intention to file a counter affidavit against the contempt motion, argued that where the jurisction of a court was challenged, the court was bound to hear it first before other pending motions.

The tribunal adjourned the matter until May 5 for hearing of the motions.

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Taiye Agbaje

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.

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