Multichoice slam with N150M fine by Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal

By Abimbola Mohammed

Multichoice Nigeria has been fined N150 million by the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal for defying a court order to halt a price increase.

The tribunal also directed the pay-TV company to offer Nigerian subscribers a complimentary one-month subscription to its DStv and GOtv packages.

The penalty comes after the company disputed the court’s jurisdiction in a case involving the recent hike in subscription prices. The verdict was given by a three-man panel led by Thomas Okusu today.

This development follows a legal challenge filed by Festus Onifade, an Abuja-based lawyer, who argued that the 8-day notice period for the price hike was insufficient. The tribunal had previously instructed Multichoice to refrain from increasing subscription fees without proper notice.

Onifade had sued DSTV, accusing the Pay-TV of unjustly increasing subscription fees without one month’s notice to customers and leveraging on it to seek interim orders. Onifade then proceeded to file contempt charges against Multichoice after it disobeyed court orders and proceeded with its price hike as announced via email to its customers.

The contempt charges which were filed on May 7 were instituted against the Manager of the Abuja branch of Multichoice Nigeria Ltd, Mr Mohammed Sani.

In a Notice of Consequence of Disobedience to Order of Court, Form 48, marked: CCPT/OP/02/2024 dated and filed on May 7, the notice warned Sani against disregarding the tribunal order.

“Take notice that unless you obey the under-listed order of the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal, Abuja, given on the 29th day of April 2024, thus: “An order restraining the 1st defendant/respondent either by itself, agents, representatives, officers or privies, howsoever described from carrying out the impending increase in tariffs and cost of its products and services intended to take effect from 1st May 2024, until the hearing and determination of the motion on notice already filed before this tribunal”.

The contempt was hinged on the company’s disobedience to the court order and Onifade, sought an order of the tribunal, directing MultiChoice to pay the sum of N1 billion “or any amount the tribunal deemed fit appropriate in this circumstance for the company’s deliberate actions in disobeying, contravening, and failing to comply with the interim order” granted on April 29.

The court subsequently fixed July 3 for a hearing of the plaintiff’s substantive suit.


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