N1.04tr NCC fine: MTN agrees on N330b staggered payment
By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
MTN Nigeria and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) have reached an amicable settlement in the matter of the N1.04trillion fine imposed by the regulator in October last year for MTN’s delay in disconnecting 5.1 million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline.
Further to several weeks of negotiations between MTN, NCC and the Federal Government, the following agreed terms have been announced. MTN will pay the NCC the sum of N330 billion in full and final settlement of the fine in line with an agreed payment plan.
In addition to the monetary settlement, MTN Nigeria undertakes to subscribe to the voluntary observance of the Code of Corporate Governance for the Telecoms Industry and will ensure compulsory compliance. The company also undertakes to take immediate steps to ensure listing of its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) as soon as is commercially and legally possible; always ensure full compliance of its license terms and conditions as issued by the NCC.
The agreement and resolutions were signed by Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar G. Danbatta, NCC Commission Secretary, Mr. Felix Adeoye, Chief Executive of MTN, Ferdinand Moolman and MTN’s Company Secretary, Mrs. Uto Ukpanah, and witnessed by Mr. Tony Ojobo, NCC, Director, Public Affairs; Mr. Usman Malah, Chief of Staff to the EVC, NCC; Ms Helen Obi, Assistant Director, Legal, NCC and Ms. Amina Oyagbola, Corporate Executive, MTN.
Speaking on the development, Moolman said: “MTN Nigeria once again offers its most sincere apologies for the series of unfortunate events that led to the imposition of the fine. It was of critical importance to reach a solution that would be of universal benefit to all stakeholders given the importance of the ICT industry in Nigeria and its tremendous impact on socio-economic growth. Along with the authorities, we believe that has been achieved.”
Regarding the company's undertaking to list, Moolman said: "MTN Nigeria is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s success stories. Broader public participation exemplifies this.”
It will be recalled that the initial fine of N1.04 trillion was later adjusted by 25 per cent to N780 million. MTN Nigeria considered the fine inimical to the sustainability of its business and sought judicial determination in December last year to protect the extensive local ecosystem, valued and supported by MTN’s business.
However in February this year, at the request of the Federal Government, MTN announced the withdrawal of its case against NCC and made an initial “goodwill” payment of N50 billion in order to create a conducive atmosphere for further negotiations.
At the time, Moolman said: “This is another manifestation of good faith and intent by MTN Nigeria. We have the equally good intentions of the Nigerian authorities and the strength of our mutual commitment to an amicable resolution. The high priority that the Government is giving to the sustainability of the industry assures us of a truly integrated approach amongst all parties, to the growth of ICT as a critical enabler of socio economic development in Nigeria."
Commenting on the final resolution of the NCC fine, MTN Group Executive Chairman Phutuma Nhleko expressed his thanks to the Federal Government of Nigeria for the spirit in which the matter was resolved saying ' this is the best outcome for the company, its stakeholders, the Federal Government and the Nigerian people and the relationship between MTN, the Federal Government and the NCC has been restored and strengthened.’’