By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has lifted the ban on regulatory services which it placed on MTN Nigeria for several regulatory infractions.
But the lifting of the ban on regulatory services is in no way related to the fine the Commission imposed on MTN on October 20, 2015, for failure to deactivate 5.2million improperly registered SIM cards for which a fine of N1.04Trillion was imposed. These infractions predated this fine.
According to Tony Ojobo, Director of Public Affairs at the NCC, the letter lifting suspension of regulatory services to MTN signed by Mr. Efosa Idehen, Head, Compliance, Monitoring/Enforcement and Mrs. Yetunde Akinloye, Head, Legal & Regulatory Services, specifically stated that the lifting of the suspension is as a result of several letters from MTN to the NCC requesting for the lifting.
The letter stated that “we have reviewed MTN’s plea and also took into consideration the fact that MTN has abated all the infractions that gave rise to the suspension of regulatory services by the Commission.”
The infractions included, but are not limited to, tariffs and promotions by MTN in letters from NCC of May 4, 2015, May 9, 2015 and May 25, 2015 respectively to withdraw unapproved tariffs and promotions specifically MTN Trutalk, MTN Best II promotions among others.
Compliance checks on MTN showed that it had failed and deliberately refused to comply with the directives issued by the Commission.
In spite of that, it continued to introduce additional promotions in utter disregard for the NCC directive, contrary to the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003 and Regulation 8(2) of the Enforcement Regulations 2005 and the relevant provision in the Guidelines for Advertisement and Promotion.
Further communication with MTN in letters dated June 19, 2015 and July 13, 2015 did not in any way discourage the operator from these infractions.
Consequently, in a meeting between the NCC and MTN management on October 5, 2015 it was resolved among others that: NCC should compile and communicate list of all outstanding infractions to MTN stating what they need to do regarding each of the infractions; MTN should resolve all the outstanding infractions within two weeks and revert to the Commission; the Commission will monitor and validate the claims by MTN; and MTN must commit to settling all outstanding Annual Operating Levies (AOLs) debts from 2014 and MTN must pay all penalties resulting from these outstanding infractions.
Having reviewed MTN’s plea therefore and in consideration that the operator has abated all the infractions listed above, the NCC hereby lifts the suspension urging MTN “to ensure that it maintains good regulatory standing with the Commission at all times to avoid future occurrence”
In lifting the suspension of regulatory services to MTN, “the Commission expects total compliance with NCA, 2003, Regulations and the Terms and Conditions of Licences issued to MTN and will not hesitate to impose necessary sanctions where MTN flouts any provision of the foregoing regulatory instruments.”