The Minister of Communication, Chief Adebayo Shittu, has said telecommunications giant MTN escaped bankruptcy through the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari, who reduced the fine imposed on the South African company by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to disconnect mobile lines not registered by the firm.
Shittu, in a chat with The Guardian in Ibadan, Oyo State, also said NCC would start sanctioning any telecom company that fleeces customers through unsolicited messages.
The minister said the fine imposed on MTN was huge and that its strict enforcement would have crippled the company. This, he said, could have resulted in loss of jobs, investments and unpleasant consequences for the economy.
“President Buhari saved MTN from bankruptcy, because of his intervention in reducing drastically the hefty fine imposed on the telecom giant.
“If as telecommunication operators, there are laws that forbids you from selling GSM lines without registering them and there are also rules that proclaim certain amount as fines for doing so (in this case, N200, 000 per each unregistered line) and you still go ahead to sell millions of lines after the fact, you should be ready to face the music.
“It is true that Nigerians have bought MTN shares, a lot of Nigerians are employed by MTN and that a lot of people might suffer due to the loss posted last week by the company because of the fine. It however, doesn’t mean we have to tolerate their negligence.
“With the president’s gesture at saving MTN, the ministers said companies operating in the sector should show commitment and abide by the rules put in place by government.
“Even as minister of communications, they send unsolicited messages to me daily and they would even advise me, just like other Nigerians to indicate if I don’t want these annoying messages and services. They still charge me, just like millions of Nigerians, even when I unsubscribe to these services”.
Shittu said “Let me say this, the NCC is compiling a list of complaints by Nigerians against the erring companies and at the appropriate time, they shall summarily sanction all the telecommunication companies involved in these acts.”
“I am hereby advising Nigerians, who are daily subjected to these annoying messages to lay their complaints through a toll free number, 622, which opens from Monday –Friday, from 8-30 a.m to 5pm, for the purpose of receiving complaints by the NCC,” the minister said.