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Alex Enumah in Abuja
A vacation Judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court Abuja, yesterday insisted that the order made by the court on August 20, which prohibited MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, from going ahead with its planned increase in subscription tariffs for its cable television, DSTV, still subsists.
Justice Dimgba reiterated the position of the court following claims by counsel to Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Babatunde Irukera, that MultiChoice had issued a public statement to the effect that it would not obey the court order.
But, the defendant through its counsel, M. J. Onibanjo (SAN), however, denied flouting the order of the court.
The CPC had dragged MultiChoice Nigeria to court, following its announced plans to increase tarriffs from August 1, 2018.
The CPC in an exparte application, urged the court to restrain Multichoice from taking further steps on the planned increment, pending the determination of the main suit challenging the increment.
According to the firm, the DSTV Premium package which goes for N14,700 would now go for N15,800 (about 7.5 per cent increase); 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.
But delivering ruling on the exparte motion, Justice Dimgba, had granted an interim injunction restraining 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 court also 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.
However, at the resumed hearing yesterday, counsel to CPC, Babatunde Irukera told the court that MultiChoice had issued a public statement to the effect that it would not obey the court order.
Irukera, who is the Director General of CPC, had 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 teem 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 characterised 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 stated.
The CPC lawyer told the court that he was in possession of the affidavit evidence.
Responding, counsel to the defendant, M. J. Onibanjo SAN denied that there was such a publication, adding that the plaintiff ought to have brought a formal complaint.
Following from the above, the court restated that its 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.
Justice Dimgba warned the defendant against taking any step that will over reach the court.
Earlier, Onibanjo had 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.
The matter has been adjourned to September 3, for hearing