Nigeria's Consumer Protection Council Raids Multichoice office in Lagos

Officials of the Consumer Protection Council on Thursday raided the head office of pay-TV service provider, MultiChoice Nigeria, in Lagos.

The officials, armed with a warrant, were accompanied by policemen and journalists to the company’s office at about 1pm.

They allegedly left with laptop computers and important documents about the company’s operations.

The operation was led by the Council’s Director of Legal Services, Emmanuel Ataguba.

Officials of Multichoice Nigeria could not be reached for comments on the raid.

However, in a statement on Thursday, the CPC said it conducted the raid in an effort to checkmate any obstruction of the ongoing investigation into the operations of the Digital Satellite Television (DStv) by the Council.

It said it did so in line with relevant sections of its enabling law.

“CPC, in line with one of its mandates to provide redress for consumer abuse, commenced investigation into the operations of DStv based on a barrage of complaints of alleged consumer rights violations against the company,” the statement signed by Mr. Ataguba said.

He said “the CPC commenced investigative sittings into the operations of Multichoice Nigeria, the franchise owners of DStv on Friday, July 31, 2015.

“This followed a barrage of consumer complaints alleging wide-range abuse of subscribers’ rights. These include poor quality of service such as incessant disruption of service without compensation, wrongful disconnection of service during subsisting subscriptions, decoder swap irregularities and poor redress mechanism and customer service.

“The inaugural sitting provided a four-man DStv team the opportunity to respond to questions from the CPC investigating panel, and was adjourned for the DStv team to provide more documents. Since then, subsequent sittings of the CPC investigating panel have suffered abrupt adjournments and disruptions at the instance of Multichoice Nigeria.”

The council said the disruptions started with a letter received on August 25 from Multichoice Nigeria acknowledging the CPC request for additional information and asking for a six-week extension for the continuation of the investigation, claiming that the notice of the summons was short.

The statement continued, “The CPC declined the six-week extension request, countering the short notice claim of Multichoice Nigeria, insisting that its representatives at the first sitting of the investigation were constructively put on notice to produce additional documents. In the interest of justice, the CPC granted a postponement of two weeks to Thursday, September 10, 2015.”

However, there were indications Thursday that the raid followed a meeting between Multichoice officials and those of the Council which broke down few days ago.

At the meeting which held in Abuja, the CPC allegedly asked the company to hand over personal information of its subscribers as well as its exclusive contract in Nigeria, a request which the company reportedly turned down.

But the Multichoice team, led by its Managing Director, John Ugbe, was said to have told the CPC that it owed its subscribers a duty to protect their personal information.

A source at the meeting said Mr. Ugbe explained that releasing sensitive information about subscribers would amount to a breach of the trust subscribers reposed in his company when they signed up to its services.

He however expressed his company’s readiness to cooperate with the CPC in its effort to ensure that subscribers obtained improved customer satisfaction.

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