A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday struck out an application by telecommunication company, MTN, seeking a long adjournment in the suit filed against it by its competitor, Etisalat.
Etisalat had headed for the court over an allegation that the Nigerian Communications Commission was giving MTN market advantage over it.
The plaintiff is aggrieved with the MTN’s “Family and Friends” promo, which offers a call rate of 11 kobo per second to eight MTN subscribers and two non-MTN subscribers.
Etisalat argued that MTN’s “Family and Friends” promo was launched in violation of NCC’s regulation, adding that the promo package was restricting outgoing call traffic to smaller operators “by pricing on-net tariffs lower so as to make off-net calls unattractive.”
Etisalat said MTN was posing a threat to its business survival, adding that if the court did not urgently hear the suit, its business was liable to being eroded within a very short time.
Subsequently, Justice Mohammed Idris had, on July 21, granted the application seeking an urgent hearing of the suit during the court’s long vacation.
But at the resumed hearing on Monday, counsel for MTN, Olasupo Sasore (SAN), appeared in court with an application contesting the urgency claimed by Etisalat.
Sasore argued that contrary to the claim by the plaintiff, there was nothing urgent in the matter to warrant it being heard during the court’s vacation.
However, counsel for Etisalat, Kola Awodein (SAN), told the court that though Sasore only served him with a copy of the application in the evening of last week Friday, he had already filed his reply.
Awodein also said that the lawyer representing NCC in the matter, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), had pleaded with him that he was just briefed and he would need time to study the file.
According to him, all the parties had agreed to come back to court on September 25, 2015.
Following this development, the judge, consequently, struck out MTN’s application and adjourned till September 25, 2015 for further hearing.
Etisalat, in the main suit, is seeking a review of a decision said to be recently taken by NCC allowing 30 per cent differential between MTN’s off-net and on-net retail mobile voice tariffs.
According to Etisalat, with the said 30 per cent differential between its off-net and on-net retail mobile voice tariffs, MTN had been able to create what is called a “calling club,” an example of which is its “Family and Friends” promo.