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Tribunal Fixes September For MultiChoice Tariff Hike Verdict

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A Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal sitting in Abuja has fixed September 6 for judgment in a suit filed against MultiChoice, the operator of Gotv and DStv, over the recent price hike on their products and subscription rates.

The tribunal, headed by Mr. Thomas Okosun, fixed the date on Monday after counsel for the parties presented their arguments for and against the matter.

The tribunal, on June 20, granted Festus Onifade’s reliefs in an application seeking leave to amend his earlier originating summons and deem it to have been properly filed.

The lawyer, in the latest originating summons, is suing the firm, the operators of DStv and Gotv, for N10m damages.

Onifade, in the amended originating summons dated June 17 but filed June 20, also sought the order of the tribunal directing and mandating MultiChoice to adopt a pay-as-you-view model of billing for all its products and services forthwith.

The claimants; Onifade, a legal practitioner, and Coalition of Nigeria Consumers, on behalf of himself and others, had sued the company and Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission as 1st and 2nd respondents, shortly after the company, on March 22, announced its plan to increase price of its products from April 1.

They had prayed the tribunal for an order, restraining the firm from increasing its services and other products on April 1, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice dated and filed on March 30, and the tribunal granted the ex-parte motion, directing parties to maintain status quo ante bellum.

But despite the tribunal’s order, the company was alleged to have gone ahead with the price increase on DStv and Gotv subscriptions.

On April 11, the tribunal again ordered MultiChoice to revert back to the old prices by maintaining status quo of its March 30 order, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.

But counsel for MultiChoice, Jamiu Agoro, in a motion in notice on Thursday, challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the matter.

The prayers, according to the lawyer, include “an order for stay of execution of the order of the Honourable Tribunal made on March 30, pending the determination of the instant application; an order setting aside and discharging the order of the CCPT made on March 30 in this present suit.

“An order of the honourable tribunal striking out the suit in limine for want of jurisdiction by the tribunal, and for such further order or other orders as this Honourable Tribunal may deem fit to make in the circumstances.”

In his six grounds enumerated, Agoro argued that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit as the claimants lacked the competence to institute the action.

The tribunal then adjourned the matter until Monday to take the substantive suit and the defendants’ responses.

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BREAKING: Lagos Govt. Extends Okada Ban To Mushin, Oshodi, 7 Other LGAs

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The Lagos State Government has extended the ban on commercial motorcycles popularly called Okada to four more Local Govt Areas and five Local Council Development Areas.

As gathered, the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has directed full enforcement from September 1, 2022.

The additional councils where the total Okada ban is pronounced include Kosofe Local Government, Oshodi-Isolo Local Government, Shomolu Local Government, and Mushin Local Government.

Others are Ikosi-Isherri LCDA, Agboyi-Ketu LCDA, Isolo LCDA, Bariga LCDA, and Odi-Olowo LCDA.

Sanwo-Olu had in May banned the operation of commercial motorcycles on highways and six local governments and nine LCDAs. The governor announced that the ban is “indefinite and total”.

The six local governments listed by the governor are Ikeja, Surulere, Eti-Osa, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island, and Apapa. The ban followed the February 2020 restriction placed on the activities of commercial motorcycles.

Sanwo-Olu said the Government decided in line with the State’s Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 to immediately address the chaos and menace created by the operations of Okada in the listed areas. He told the police to enforce the order without compromise.

He said, “After a critical review of our restriction on Okada activities in the first six Local Government Areas where we restricted them on February 1, 2020, we have seen that the menace has not abated. We are now directing a total ban on Okada activities across the highways and bridges within these six Local Government and their Local Council Development Areas, effective from June 1, 2022.

“This is a phased ban we are embarking on this period, and we expect that within the short while when this ban will be enforced, Okada riders in other places where their activities are yet to be banned can find something else to do. We have given the notice now and we expect all commercial motorcycles plying the routes in the listed councils and areas to vacate the highways before enforcement begins. The enforcement will be total.”

Following reactions that greeted the ban’s announcement, the governor on May 24 insisted that the state government would go ahead with its proposed ban on motorcycles, adding that security services and government are on the same page with respect to the banning of motorcycles in the selected areas of the state.

He also assured that the security architecture of the state would not be compromised in any way so that Lagos residents will continue to live their lives and do their business without any fear or favour.

He said, “The security meeting gives us an opportunity for us to review the recent pronouncement on the future banning of Okada (motorcycles) in some selected local governments and LCDAs.

“We are able to put strategies in place. All of us were able to identify a lot of other things we need to do to embark on advocacy and ensure that we communicate effectively and efficiently to citizens. And that is why you see us giving out handbills in all of the major languages that we have in the country.

“There is a radio jingle being sent out to also communicate to people. I am also aware that there is a plan for advocacy on television stations as well.

“It is a people-driven initiative that we all agreed to live and to comport ourselves in a similar manner. And we know what has been the effect of this. So, I am happy that all of us, the security operatives and government are on the same page with this and we will also be going ahead with our plans.”

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NDLEA Nabs Abuja Businessman For Selling Illicit Drugs Online

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Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, have arrested the MD/CEO of Marvelrock Pharmaceuticals and Stores Limited, Mr. Orakwe Chibuike Celestine, for allegedly engaging in sales of illicit and controlled drugs on the popular e-commerce platform, Jiji.ng.

A graduate of Business Administration from the University of Abuja, Orakwe, it was alleged, registered the pharmaceutical company on 16th December 2014 with the certificate and support of a licensed pharmacist, who opted out of the deal in 2017. The suspect continued running the business and enrolled it on Jiji.ng platform in 2019. He however came under NDLEAs radar in October 2021 when he advertised many pharmaceutical products such as Tramadol, Ketamine Hydrochloride injection, and Hypnox flunitrazepam tablets among others on the Jiji.ng online marketplace.

NDLEA said between 26th October 2021 and 8th August 2022, its team of anti-narcotic officers assigned to investigate Orakwes drug business activities was able to establish the suspect was selling Tramadol 225mg and other illicit/controlled drugs through the e-commerce platform. It said, as a result, the suspect was arrested with some quantities of Tramadol and Swiphnol brand of Rohypnol on Monday 8th August at a drink joint in the Jabi area of Abuja where he had gone to make some supplies of orders made through his online channel on Jiji.ng.

In his reaction to Orakwes arrest, Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said the painstaking investigation and process of arresting the businessman should send a strong message to those hiding behind the internet to engage in marketing and selling illicit/controlled drugs that the Agency will definitely get them to face the consequences of their action.

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Lagosians Call For Total Ban Of Commercial Motorcycles

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. . . As Government Announces 86% Reduction in Crime Rate, 63.7% Decline in Okada-Related Accidents

Lagosians are calling on the State government to place a total ban on commercial motorcycles.

At a stakeholders’ forum convened to review the ban on commercial motorcycles, popularly called ‘okada’, in six local government areas, participants unanimously called for a total ban on the mode of transportation.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr. Gbenga Omotoso explained that Governor Sanwo-Olu mandated a committee to engage stakeholders and review the ban, which took effect on June 1, 2022.

The Commissioner said, “After seeing the results of the ban in the six local government areas, many Lagosians have been calling on the government to expand the ban. Some say it should be statewide, considering the present anxiety over security. Mr. Governor has mandated us to have this meeting to discuss what next”.

Calling on stakeholders to present sincere opinions and recommendations that would aid the government’s decision, Omotoso noted that data available after the ban indicated a security improvement, a reduction in motorcycle accidents, and lower admission of ‘ókada’ victims in hospitals.

Commissioner for Transportation Dr. Frederic Oladeinde said an anti-okada squad was inaugurated to aid the police and task force in enforcing the ban.

The Commissioner said: “In the affected areas within the period under review, available records show that crime and accident rates reduced by 86% and 63.7% while 7,500 motorcycles were impounded and crushed”.

He said the forum was convened “to reignite the State’s commitment to tackling insecurity, crime, non-compliance to safety rules and traffic regulations as well as underground activities perpetuated by non-State actors with the use of Okada”.

Oladeinde gave an assurance that the State Government would consider the views at the forum in taking further decisions on the okada menace.

Kick-starting conversations at the meeting, the moderator and anchor of the popular Journalists’ Hangout on TVC, Mr. Babajide Otitoju, emphasized the need for participants to give candid opinions that would help Governor Sanwo-Olu take the most beneficial decision on okada.

Otitoju gave examples of states that had banned the mode of commercial transportation, saying “When Boko Haram was using okada to kill people, the government had no choice but to ban okada in Kano. If it can happen in Kano, I am convinced a total ban can work in Lagos”.

He cited examples of other States that had banned okada as Akwa Ibom and Enugu.

The Lead Speaker at the forum, Prof. Bamidele Badejo, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Management Sciences, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, traced the emergence of motorcycles as a means of transportation in Lagos to the economic depression in the early eighties.

He, however, noted that the advent of ‘okada’ heralded security and safety challenges, health consequences, confusion on highways, and a high level of indiscipline and harassment on Lagos roads, among others.

Prof. Badejo insisted that commercial motorcycles must be banned because the trend does not comply with “global best practices for mobility infrastructure development” and its health consequences, such as pollution; smoke emission, and, abuse of drugs, among riders, as well as security and safety challenges.

Expressing confidence in the State Government’s transportation plan, Prof. Badejo said that completion of the ongoing rail and road projects as well as the opening of the waterways would remove the need for okada in any part of Lagos.
The panelists – Mr. Sanya Oni, a representative of the media; Nelson Ekujumi, an activist and representative of Civil Society Organisations; Chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (Lagos State Chapter), Comrade Olalekan Sulaimon-Oba, and Alhaji Azeez Amusat, Chairman Lagos State Community Advisory Council – were unanimous in their recommendations that the Government should ban okada across all Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas.

The youth representative stated that his constituency is hundred percent in support of a “total ban” and was emphatic that the government should ensure that all Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas stop the issuance of riders’ permits to commercial motorcyclists.

Sulaimon-Oba went on: “Politicians should stop empowering youths with okada in Lagos State. The government should also not relax the ban due to approaching elections”.

Also at the event were security chiefs, traditional rulers, and religious leaders, who were all in support of a ban on commercial motorcycles operating in Lagos.

Oba Segun Ajasa of Onigbongbo said; “Okada should be banned all over. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. It is used to steal and snatch phones. Okada is not a good thing because the riders are looking for fast money. That is our experience”.

The Grand Chief Imam of Ikorodu Division, Fadheelat Sheikh Seifudeen A. A. Olowo-Oribi, applauded Governor Sanwo-Olu for providing various empowerment programs for youths.

Sheikh Olowo-Oribi noted that many okada riders have arms and ammunition in their possession.

“Tell Mr. Governor to make the ban total across local governments to ensure safety all over the State”, he said.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation Mr. Sola Giwa urged all participants to return to their communities and “walk the talk” on decisions taken at the stakeholder engagement.

The event was attended also by members of the State Executive Council, including Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources Mr. Tunji Bello, and the Commissioner for Housing Mr. Moruf Akinderu-Fatai.

Also present were the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Kamal Olowosago, the Executive Assistant to the Governor on New Media and Public Relations, Mr. Olusegun Fafore, and other top functionaries of the State Government.

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