Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, refuses to allow Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, lawyer, to be joined as plaintiff in a class action suit against Multichoice
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a Lagos based, made a failed bid to be joined as a plaintiff in a case at the Federal High Court in Lagos, involving Multichoice, provider of Digital Satellite Television in Nigeria on Tuesday. Two lawyers, Osasuyi Adebayo and Oluyinka Adeniji, in April brought a class suit against Multichoice over the companies bid to increase the price of its services.
At the resumed hearing in the case, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, presiding Judge, rejected Adegboruwa’s plea, saying since more than 170 million Nigerians use the services of DStv, not everyone could be accommodated as plaintiff. The case on Tuesday was to take argument on whether the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter as argued by Multichoice.
It would be recalled that Adebayo and Oyeniji had dragged the company to court in a class action for themselves and on behalf of other subscribers. At the resumed sitting, Yemi Salman led a team of lawyers, including Adebayo, Oyeniji, Mufutau Olajobi, Olutoun Akinfire and Oluwole Fola, to argue the position of the plaintiffs, while Moyo Onigbanjo, SAN, appeared for the 1st Defendant.
A mild drama, however, played out when Adegboruwa, who had earlier challenged the Lagos State government on the restriction of movement during environmental sanitation, expressed his willingness to join the plaintiffs in the matter. He argued that the matter, being a noble one and himself also being the owner of five decoders of Multichoice, is entitled to join the plaintiffs. He also told the court of his readiness to join the plaintiffs though his processes were still being filed at the Registry.
Onigbanjo vehemently opposed Adegboruwa’s right to be heard.
According to him, only one counsel, Oyeniji, who filed the matter on behalf of the plaintiffs, could appear or nominate a lead counsel for the plaintiffs.
Aneke then cautioned that since most Nigerians are subscribers of DStv, the court would become rowdy every Nigerians each retain lawyers. The court admonished that plaintiffs be represented by one counsel though it is a class action.
It equally ruled that no other action may be filed.
In his opening remarks, Salman argued on the priority of applications based on the fact that a pending contempt proceeding had been initiated against Multichoice. He retorted that having adjourned the matter for argument on jurisdiction for Tuesday, the same would go on regardless. He then commenced his argument, urging the court to decline jurisdiction.
Reacting, plaintiffs urged the court to dismiss the application and discountenance the further affidavits filed by Multichoice without seeking Leave of Court prior to hearing of the application. The matter was then adjourned to May 21, 2015, for ruling.
Salman also informed the court of the pendency of exparte application for substituted service of contempt proceedings on Multichoice but the court admonished him to exhibit more facts surrounding attempt to serve John Ugbe, managing director of the company, and its public relations manager before the argument of the application.
— May 18, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT