DStv-GOtv Prices: Lawyer Accuses FCCPC Of Incompetence As Tribunal Fixes Judgement Date

A lawyer, Festus Onifade has accused the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) of institutional incompetence.

Onifade made the allegation at the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT) in Abuja while moving his originating summons.

The legal practitioner and Coalition of Nigeria Consumers sued MultiChoice and FCCPC after the announcement of the plan to increase rates from April 1.

The claimants prayed the tribunal for an order restraining the firm, operator of GOtv and DStv, from the increment.

Onifade said in spite of the tribunal’s order, the company effected the price increase.

On April 11, the tribunal again ordered MultiChoice to revert to the old prices by maintaining status quo of its March 30 order, pending the determination of the matter.

Onifade, in the amended originating summons dated June 7, also sought the order mandating MultiChoice to adopt a pay-as-you-view model.

The company’s counsel, Jamiu Agoro, in a motion on notice challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the matter.

On Monday, Onifade said his originating summons had a 23-paragraph affidavit deposed to by himself with nine exhibits.

The lawyer said the claim was anchored on the petitions dated May 19, 2020 and July 2, 2020, to the 2nd defendant (FCCPC).

The litigants argue: “That the increment of May 2020 was unlawful and a violation of claimants’ rights as a consumer.

“That the pricing and billing system of the first defendant (MultiChoice) is predatory, preying on the consumers.

“That the contents of the first defendant are recycled materials that do not give the consumers and the claimants value for service.

“That the consumers; that is, the claimants in this case, should not be made to pay for local television stations at the expiration of their subscription.”

The lawyer said since the petition was written to the FCCPC, the agency neither acknowledged nor treated it.

Onifade stated that the attitude of the FCCPC “is that the claimants can go to hell”.

He said the regulator displayed “institutional incompetence” and was acting like a toothless bulldog that cannot bite.

He added that they approached the tribunal “to activate all its teeths they have within its statutory power to bite when necessary”.

Onifade said though the FCCPC claimed they investigated the petition, “unfortunately and surprisingly, this investigation was conducted in secrecy because the claimants were never invited”.

He said all the regulator’s exhibits attached to its counter affidavit were orders given to MultiChoice to act which had a time limit.

“The 2nd defendant in this circumstance has shown that they are incompetent institutionally and we urge you to discountenance their counter affidavit,” he added.

Onifade said MultiChoice “occupies a very dominant position in the market” and urged the tribunal to assume jurisdiction by granting the claimants reliefs.

Lawyer to the FCCPC, Chizenum Nsitem disagreed with Onifade, adding that the regulator acted on their petition.

The three-member tribunal, headed by Thomas Okosun, adjourned the matter until September 6 for judgment.

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