Etisalat Loses Bid to Stop Sales of Visafone to MTN

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A Federal high court in Lagos on Thursday struck out a suit filed by a telecoms company, Etisalat challenging MTN’s use of the 800megahertz (MHZ) spectrum following the acquisition of Visafone.

Justice Ibrahim Buba struck out the suit on the ground the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

The court held that Etisalat cannot challenge the acquisition of Visafone by MTN because the regulatory body saddle with the responsibility to monitor and approve such sale is Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) , and the commission is not joined as a party in this suit.

The court held that it would amount to interference if the court dabble into the responsibility of NCC because the constitution state that the NCC shall have exclusive power to regulate telecommunication sector.

Justice Buba pointed out that there is an exhibit before the court showing the approval of NCC for the sale of Visaphone to MTN.

The court held that without NCC joined as a party in this suit, the suit cannot stand as it is now.

The applicant Etisalat through their counsel Mr Femi Atoyebi (SAN) had in the suit prayed the court to declare that the sale of Visaphone to MTN as illegal, non and void as it did not follow the proper procedure as required by law.

The respondent MTN through their counsel Mr. Adeniyi Adegbomire filed a notice of preliminary objection arguing that court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

He argued that NCC is empowered by constitution to approve, regulate, sanction and issue directory on the operation of service provider in Nigeria.

Etisalat Nigeria had sued MTN Nigeria and Visafone Ltd, challenging MTN’s use of the 800megahertz (MHZ) spectrum following the acquisition of Visafone.

Etisalat said it considered the action necessary to prevent the use of the spectrum by MTN at this time, as it will entrench the dominance of MTN in the retail data services market.

“You will recall that MTN Nigeria was declared dominant by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2013 and remains dominant in the wholesale leased line and retail voice markets.

“The use of the 800MHz spectrum to deploy broadband services ahead of its competitors, particularly those who prior to MTNs purchase of Visafone, held similar spectrum bands as MTN, will further entrench MTN’s dominance in the Nigerian telecommunications sector,” Etisalat said in a statement confirmed by its Head of Media, Chineze Amanfo, yesterday.

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