The Competition and Consumer Protection, CCPC, Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, dismissed a suit that was filed to challenge the recent price hike by MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, the operator of DStv and Gotv.
The three-member panel tribunal headed by Mr Thomas Okosun, in its judgement, dismissed the suit which was filed by a legal practitioner, Mr Festus Onifade, on behalf of himself and the coalition of Nigerian consumers, as lacking in merit.
Whereas MultiChoice was sued as the 1st respondent in the matter, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC, was cited as the 2nd respondent.
Onifade had approached the tribunal shortly after the company announced its plan to increase subscription tariffs on all its products, from April 1.
In an amended originating summons he filed on June 20, the lawyer, prayed the tribunal to issue an order, directing and mandating the cable service provider to adopt a pay-as-you-view model of billing for all its products and services in the country.
Aside from praying the tribunal to restrain MultiChoice from proceeding with its plan to increase subscription fees for its services and products pending the determination of the matter, the Claimants further demanded damages be awarded against the company to the tune of N10million.
Though the tribunal initially granted an ex-parte motion that directed the parties to maintain status quo ante Bellum, however, the company was alleged to have gone ahead with the price increase on DStv and Gotv subscriptions.
MultiChoice had through its lawyer, Mr Jamiu Agoro, challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the case.
It urged the tribunal to set aside its interlocutory order, contending that the Claimants lacked the locus standi to institute the action.
Meanwhile, though the tribunal, in its judgement on Tuesday, held that it had the requisite jurisdiction to hear the suit, it however dismissed the matter for want of merit.
The tribunal held that the price increase was valid, adding that the Claimants failed to establish that MultiChoice abused its dominant position in the market.
More so, the panel held that neither the FCCP, the tribunal itself nor any other body has the power to regulate price.
“Only the President has the powers to regulate or fix prices of goods and services under stipulated circumstances which do not apply in this instance”, it held.
More so, the tribunal held that the Claimants failed to adduce any evidence or to establish how they suffered psychological trauma, hardship or how their rights were violated as a result of the price hike.
It held that the litigants were unable to show evidence of hardship suffered by the consumers of MultiChoice’s services and products.