NCC affirms payment of N50b by MTN

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) this week affirmed the receipt of N50 billion “good faith” payment made by MTN Nigeria as part of the N780 billion fine imposed on the carrier for violating SIM card registration rules.

The carrier was at the twilight of last year, slammed with N1.04 trillion fine for keeping 5.1 million active SIM cards on its network which it failed to deactivate within specified timeline. After a protracted negotiations, the Presidency intervened and reduced the fine to N780 billion only for MTN to take its regulator to court.

Tony Ojobo, Director, Public Affairs at NCC, said the government has constituted a negotiating team on the issue while the carrier has also constituted its, adding that the suit instituted against the regulator by the telco has also been withdrawn to pave way for further discussions. “NCC wishes to affirm Federal Government’s receipt of the sum of N50,000,000,000 (Fifty Billion Naira Only), towards settlement of the fine imposed on MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd by the Commission, and its withdrawal of Suit No FHC/1923/2015– MTN Vs. NCC & HAGF.

“The official information to the Commission to that effect, was received from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, today, 29th February, 2016. “The amount is an unconditional good faith payment, on the basis that this sum would be applied towards eventual settlement agreement for payment of the fine imposed by the Commission, where the ongoing negotiations between the Federal Government and the company reaches a final resolution.

“The Federal Government’s team for the negotiations is being led by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, while MTN team is led former U.S Attorney General, and Head of Covington & Burling LLP, Washington DC, Mr Eric H. Holder, Jr,” Ojobo explained. He however said the receipt of the amount, and withdrawal of the suit is without prejudice to the final decision of government on the terms of payment being proposed by the company.

“On the basis of out of court settlement, the Federal Government team, is expected to deliberate on the merits and demerits of the terms of payment of the fine imposed on MTN by the Commission for its failure to deactivate invalid SIM Cards as directed by the Commission, thereby contravening the provisions of the regulation on SIM Card Registration,” he added.

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