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Lawyers, Multichoice disagree over contempt proceedings in subsciption fees suit


Image source Dalje

Image source Dalje

TWO Lagos lawyers, Osasuyi Adebayo and Oluyinka Oyeniji, have filed contempt proceedings at the Federal High Court, Lagos against John Ugbe, the managing director of MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, operators of the Digital Satellite Television, popularly known as DStv.

The duo filed the action in response to an alleged disobedience of court order, which restrained the company from implementing its new rates and increase in tariffs payable by its subscribers across board.

Also listed in the committal proceedings is the company’s Public Relations Manager, Mrs. Caroline Oghuma.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke had on April 2, handed down the restraining orders.

But the firm yesterday described as inaccurate various publications, news reports and commentaries on social media platforms that it disobeyed an interim injunction restraining it from enforcing the increase in subscription rates for its programmes bouquet.

According to MultiChoice, in a statement, yesterday, as at April 2, when the Federal High Court granted the orders of interim injunction, the price increase had already taken effect, having commenced on April 1.

“The status quo as at April 2, 2015 when the order was made was that the prices had already been increased.

“MultiChoice thus reiterates that it is not in breach of or disobeying the order of interim injunction made by the Federal High Court on 2nd April 2015,” the pay-TV company said in Lagos on Thursday.

It added that the contract agreement between MultiChoice and all its subscribers (including the parties who filed the suit under reference), explicitly states that MultiChoice reserves the right to change prices and channels.

This fact, it said, was not disclosed to the court before the orders of interim injunction was obtained.

The lawyers, in their motion on notice in support of the application for committal for contempt, are seeking an order committing the two MultiChoice officers to prison for disobeying the court’s order.

They also seek an order mandating MultiChoice to render accounts of all excesses charged in tariffs (in contempt of court) with particulars of such subscribers and crediting their account against the next renewal and/or remitting such excesses back to the customers.

They are also seeking an order mandating the managing director and the public relations manager to present officially written undertaking which is to be filed at the registry of the court, pledging to obey all the orders made in the matter until final determination of the suit.

At the resumed hearing on the suit yesterday, counsel to MultiChoice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), informed the court of his client’s applications, one seeking to discharge the exparte order, and another challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.

When the court asked why his client did not comply with the court’s order, Onigbanjo said that the order was made a day after MultiChoice started the implementation of the new rates.

He added that the order was brought to the attention of his client on April 8. According to him, a party that has challenged the jurisdiction of the court with respect to an order is not bound to obey the court’s order.

Onigbanjo further informed the court that the status quo as at the time the order was made has been maintained by his client, which is to continue with the new rate.

Responding, the plaintiffs’ counsel, Osasuyi Adebayo, faulted Onigbanjo’s claims on why the court’s order has not been complied with.

He said the application for injunction had been filed before April 1 when the company started implementation of the new rates, and that even if the order came a day after MultiChoice began implementation, since the proceeding has not ended, the com

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