29 December 2015

Nigeria: You Can't Sue Us Outside Abuja - NCC Tells MTN

Photo: Premium Times
MTN Nigeria.

Lagos — The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has challenged the competence of the suit filed against it by the by MTN Nigeria, saying the Federal High Court in Lagos lacks jurisdiction to hear the case.

In a motion on notice filed through its counsels, Ahmed Raji (SAN) and Mahmud Magaji (SAN) NCC queried the competence of the suit, insisting that MTN failed to ensure proper service of court documents on it.

It would be recalled that the NCC had fined MTN N1.04 trillion for allegedly breaching statutory and regulatory directives. In return MTN filed a suit against NCC before the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking to void NCC's decision to penalize it for failing to among others, register about 5.2 million subscribers within a given deadline.

According to MTN, the NCC lacks powers to impose the fine. It argues that the contention that NCC, being a regulator, cannot assume all the functions of the state on its own, considering the fact that they made the regulation, prescribed the penalty and imposed the fine, payable to the commission and not the federal government.

MTN insisted that by imposing a fine on it, the commission was already usurping the exclusive legislative powers of the National Assembly, as well as the judicial powers of the courts established under the constitution.

But the NCC through its lawyers said the suit was wrongly instituted in the Lagos division of the Federal High Court and that MTN, in serving it court processes, failed to comply with the provision of section 143 of the NCC Act which stipulates that all court processes are to be served at the principal office of NCC.

The regulatory body further argued that it was not only wrong for MTN to have served court processes in relation to the suit on its Lagos office, the company initiated the suit at the wrong venue by going before the Federal High Court, Lagos, which lacked the territorial jurisdiction to determine the dispute.

It stated, in a supporting affidavit, not only did all facts relating to the dispute occur in Abuja, both defendants in the suit -

NCC and the Attorney general of the Federation (AGF) - have their principal offices in Abuja.

The NCC therefore prayed the court to set aside the purported service of all processes in the case on it. In the alternative, it wants the court to either decline jurisdiction over the case or transfer it to its Abuja division.


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