JUSTICE Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Tuesday, insisted that the exparte order made on August 20, 2018, by the court restraining MultiChoice Nigeria Ltd, from going ahead with its recent decision to increase the subscription tariffs for its cable television, DSTV, still subsists.
The order of the court followed a motion exparte filed alongside an originating summon marked FHC/ABJ/CS/894/18 by the Consumer Protection Council (CPC).
The suit emanated from the announcement by 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 Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) granted the authority for the CPC to file the suit in accordance with the provisions of Section 10 and 16 of the Consumer Protection Council Act, Cap c25, LFN 2004.
Justice Dimgba specifically 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.
When the matter came up on Tuesday, Dimgba, a vacation Judge was told by counsel to CPC, Babatunde Irukera 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 the court. 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 stated.
The CPC lawyer told the court that he was in possession of the affidavit evidence.
Though, counsel to the defendant, M. J. Onibanjo (SAN) who denied that there was no such publication, however, insisted that the plaintiff ought to have brought a formal complaint.
At this juncture, 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 and warned the defendant against taking any step that will overreach 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, 2018, for hearing.