Court Dismisses Suit By Etisalat Against Mtn, Visafone


SAN FRANCISCO, February 25, (THEWILL) – Justice Ibarhim Buba of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, has dismissed the lawsuit filed by Etisalat against MTN Nigeria and Visafone over the acquisition of the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator.

Etisalat had brought a legal action against MTN and Visafone, challenging MTN's use of the 800MHZ spectrum after it announced its acquisition of Visafone, and released a statement supporting its legal action

“The action was considered necessary to prevent the use of the spectrum by MTN at this time, as it will allow the deployment of broadband services ahead of its competitors and entrench the dominance of MTN in the retail data services market,” it said.

However, the court, delivered its ruling in respect 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, by its counsel, Niyi Adegbonmire, (for MTN and Visafone) and struck out the matter.

It held that Etisalat failed to fulfil conditions precedent as required by the Nigerian Communications Act, and also 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 adding that the suit, as filed by Etisalat, was incurably bad and could not be remedied.

Etisalat's complaint was hinged on the administrative powers of the Nigerian Communications Commission who had already approved the transaction between MTN and Visafone and as such, both Visafone and MTN were not relevant parties to the suit.

Story by David Oputah