MTN must pay N780 Billion fine in full - Reps

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The House of Representatives is insisting that Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) service provider, MTN Nigeria must pay the N780b fine slammed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

This is as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami and the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari have been invited to appear before the House next week to explain and justify their roles in the negotiation process.

It was disclosed Wednesday that MTN had, in its proposal for settlement of the face-off with the Federal government planned to pay N300b only out of the N1.04 trillion that was later reduced to N780b.

It proposed to pay N50b it described as ‘goodwill offer’ and another N100b in cash while the balance would be paid with complementary services (in kind).

The service provider also proposed to be listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) as part of the settlement negotiation.

The lawmakers said since it was an incontrovertible fact that MTN was found culpable of breaching Sections 19 and 20 of the NCC Act, it was in no position to dictate the terms of negotiation at it is currently doing.

While condemning the exclusion of the National Assembly from the negotiation of the fine by the Federal government, the lawmakers regretted that NCC was also relegated to the background in the exercise.

MTN was penalized by the regulatory body for failing to deactivate 5.2 million improperly registered SIM cards within a stipulated period which led to it being slammed with the administrative fines of N1.04 trillion

At the resumed investigative hearing by House Committee on Communications, NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof Umar Dambatta said the position of the Commission was that MTN must pay the fine of N780b in full, even if in installmemts and not as it proposed.

The lawmakers condemned the arrogant disposition of the service provider that having breached the Nigerian laws, it was in no position to dictate the terms of negotiation.

The Saheed Fijabi-led Committee was at a loss why NCC was relegated to the background in the negotiation that was alegedly taken over by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abdullahi Malami and the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.

Saying that the time of impunity is over, Chairman of the Committee, Fijabi said, “We believe that NCC has not been allowed to take charge of the negotiation because it has been reduced to the background.

“NCC did the fines, it should be allowed to take charge but that is not the case here, someone is even doing the reduction without your (NCC) input.

“At the court, wasn’t the case between MTN and NCC? So, NCC ought to take the lead while others can provide support and advise.

“It is not a hidden fact that MTN is fond of finding ways to circumvent our laws. MTN must pay because we all remember the Gulf of Mexico spill and how those found culpable paid fully for it.

“It is even insulting that MTN is using listing on the Stock exchange as part of the negotiation. We must state it clearly that MTN is in no position to dictate the terms of negotiation in this case.”
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