Fees Hike: Court Fixes May 21 For Ruling on DSTV’s Suit Challenging Court’s Jurisdiction

Federal High Court Lagos, presiding by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke , adjourned May 21 for ruling on an application filed by Multichoice Nigeria Limited, operators of the Digital Satellite Television, popularly known as DSTV, challenging the court jurisdiction to entertain a suit filed against it by two Lagos lawyers.‬
‪The two Lagos lawyer, Osasuyi Adebayo and Oluyinka Oyeniji, have filed a suit against the Multichoice, challenging the increase in the subscription rates.‬
‪The court had on April 2, granted an exparte order restraining the Multichoice from increase in subscription rate.‬
‪The last adjourned date, the two lawyer had filed before the court a contempt proceedings against Mr. John Ugbe, and Mrs. Caroline Ughuma, the Multichoice’s Managing Director and Public Relation Manager respectively, for alleged disobedience of court’s order which restrained the company from implementing its new rates and increase in tariffs payable by its subscribers across board.‬
‪However, lawyer to the Multichoice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN, had informed the court that the status quo as at the time the order was made has been maintained by his client.‬
‪Responding, plaintiffs lawyer, Osasuyi Adebayo, faulted Onigbanjo’s claims on why the court’s order has not been complied with.‬
‪He said the application for injunction has been filed before April 1 and that the court’s order has not foreclosed the suit.‬
‪”The court has made the order. Whether rightly or wrongly, the defendant is duty bound to obey it”, he said.‬
‪At the Tuesday’s (yesterday) proceeding, counsel to the Multichoice, Mr. Onigbanjo, SAN, informed the court of his client’s applications to decline and strike out of the suit, and another challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.‬
‪He said the applications was supported with an eight paragraph-affidavit, with a written address. And a further affidavit which was filed out of time .‬
‪Onigbanjo, SAN, while urging the court to strike out the two lawyers suit on the ground that there was no cause of action and being unmeritorious.‬
‪The Multichoice lawyer, also informed court that when a court jurisdiction is challenged, the only thing that court can determined is either it has jurisdiction, “because a court without jurisdiction all that it does is in futility”, he said.‬
‪But in opposition to Multichoice’s applications, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr. Yemi Salma, urged the court to discountenance the applications seeking to struck out their case.‬
‪Salma informed the court that the plaintiffs have filed a counter-affidavit deposed to by one Bola Olawale, with a written address in support of the counter affidavit. ‬
‪He urges the court to compel the control agency, the National Communication Commission, NCC, to order Multichoice to reduce its fees.‬
‪Salma also informed the court of the contempt proceedings filed against Multichoice’s managing director and the Public Relation Manager respectively.‬
‪However, the presiding judge, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, wh adjourned the matter till May 21, for ruling on the Multichoice’s challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the suit.‬
‪The two lawyers, Adebayo and Oyeniji, had sued Multi Choice to challenge the increase in the subscription rates.‬
‪In the restraining orders, Justice Aneke ruled: “That an order of interim injunction is hereby granted to the parties to maintain the status quo restraining the 1st defendant (Multichoice/DSTV) from giving effect or enforcing its planned increase in cost of the different classes of viewing or programmes bouquet, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.‬
‪“That an order is hereby granted certifying the plaintiffs’ claim as a class action for themselves as individual subscribers, other corporate subscribers, distributors and retailers of the 1st defendants’ services.‬
‪“That an order is hereby granted restraining any other person whether individual or corporate from instituting any other action as may be related to the action against the defendant to prevent multiplicity of lawsuits pursuant to the appointment of the plaintiffs in the class action but may instead opt in or out of this action.”‬
‪In the class action suit marked, FHC/L/CS/404/2015, the plaintiffs are urging the court to order the second defendant, the National Broadcasting Commission(NBC), to also implement Pay Per View where subscribers choose the programmes they want and pay as they watch, which is being implemented in some other parts of the world.‬
‪It will be recalled that, MultiChoice, owners of DStv and GOtv, had in March, announced a 20 per cent price increase for all its satellite pay TV bouquets in Nigeria.‬
‪Thus, the subscription fee of DStv Premium, Compact plus, compact, access, Family and extra view bouquets were all set to increase, as is the price for GOtv Plus and GOtv bouquet.‬
‪While justifying its action, MultiChoice explained that the price increase was necessary for it to continue offering the best in local and international entertainment to its subscribers

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