MTN floors Etisalat in court

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Etisalat Nigeria has lost the case it instituted against MTN Nigeria as Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, yesterday threw out the suit.

Etisalat had instituted the action against MTN and Visafone over the acquisition of the CDMA operator. The Court delivered its Ruling in favour of MTN’s and Visafone’s Notice of Preliminary Objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to adjudicate on the matter.

In its ruling, the court upheld the defendants’ argument, as canvassed by Mr. Niyi Adegbonmire, SAN (MTN’s and Visafone’s Counsel) and struck out the matter on the grounds that:  Etisalat failed to fulfill condition precedent as required by the Nigerian Communications Act as Etisalat failed to exhaust the judicial review process as mandated by law. Specifically, the court considered Etisalat’s action as an attempt to circumvent the judicial review process; Etisalat’s complaint was hinged on the administrative powers of the Nigerian Communications Commission which had already approved the transaction between MTN and Visafone and as such, both Visafone and MTN were not relevant parties to the suit; that the suit, as filed by Etisalat, was incurably bad and could not be remedied; the NCC was empowered to determine actions which constitute anti-competition and had actually informed Etisalat, in writing, that the transaction between Visafone and MTN did not lower competition in the telecommunications industry. The court found that the letter, which was also exhibited in court, was fatal to Etisalat’s case; and the court also faulted the approach by Etisalat in instituting the action contrary to the provision of the Nigerian Communications Act.

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