The Federal Government has denied knowledge of any payment of $250 million made by MTN over its N1.04 trillion fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications commission (NCC) for breach of SIM card registration directive.
The Special Assistant to the Minister of Communications, Mr. Victor Oluwadamilare, who stated this in an interview with Vanguard, said that the development had not been made official as the development was still under federal government’s study.
‘‘That has not been confirmed and I can confirm to you that the situation is still being studied. To the best of my knowledge, the amount announced is not the fine they are expected to pay. Federal Government is still studying it.
‘‘They decided to go to court and never wanted an amicable settlement. If they now want settlement, there has to be an official statement on that soon,’’ he said.
The Nigerian telecoms operator, MTN Nigeria was on Wednesday reported to have bowed to the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) by paying the sum of $250 million as part of the N1.04 trillion fine imposed on it by industry regulator.
Our investigation showed that the payment was made to pave way for possible settlement out of court with the NCC after all its effort to stop the payment failed. Recall that the NCC had in October 2015, slammed a fine of N1.04 trillion on MTN for its failure to deactivate over 500,000 unregistered subscribers after series of warning had were issued by the regulator to terminate them.
The company was originally given a fine of $5.2 billion in October, 2015, and after weeks of lobbying by the telecom company, the fine was reduced by 25 percent ($3.9 billion). MTN Group went to court to challenge the legality of NCC to impose such a huge fine on it but failed to argue its case to logical conclusion. Not satisfied, the telecoms company also went further to hire a former U.S. attorney general to help challenge the propriety of the fine.
The former U.S. law enforcement officer, Eric Holder is said to have pleaded with Nigerian officials last month on behalf of the telecoms company without any fruitful outcome. After hearing the case, the presiding judge in January gave the two parties a two month period to settle out of court.
However, effort to confirm the development from MTN spokesperson did not yield result. A judge in Lagos also had last month gave both parties until March 18 to reach a settlement, after MTN had asked the court to arbitrate over the dispute, saying the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had no legal grounds to order the fine.
Vanguard checks gathered that MTN on Wednesday resolved to withdraw its court challenge in an effort to reach an amicable settlement and make a payment of $250 million towards a possible settlement.