Mtn Fine: Reps Query Cbn, Furious With Mtn
BEVERLY HILLS, March 15, (THEWILL) – The House of Representatives’ Committee on Communication has queried the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the newly opened ‘asset recovery account’ where the N50 billion fine paid by MTN Nigeria was domiciled.
The information on the N50 billion paid by MTN on February 24, into the asset recovery account, was contained in the CBN statement of account sent to the Committee and read during the investigative public hearing held at the National Assembly complex, Abuja.
The Committee had last Wednesday vowed to ensure full payment of the N1.04 trillion fine imposed on MTN for breaching Section 19 and 20 of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Act and threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against MTN CEO, Ferdinand Moolman, if he fails to appear before the Committee at the next investigative hearing.
Thus, in separate letters dated March 9, 2016, the Committee asked the MTN Chief Executive alongside Godwin Emefiele, Governor of CBN; Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communication; Umar Dambatta, Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, to appear before it to give insight into the ongoing negotiation.
Tempers rose, on Tuesday, when Saheed Akinade-Fijabi, Chairman of the Committee was informed that the MTN CEO via a letter dated March 11, 2016, titled Re: Amicable settlement negotiations with the Federal Government, co-signed by Ferdinard Moolman, MTN CEO, and Amina Oyagbola, MTN human resources/corporate services executive, had referred the Committee to the appropriate government agencies, specifically the NCC, offices of the minister communications and justice as well as CBN.
“As you know, MTN is pursuing amicable settlement negotiations with the Federal Government. We believe you will understand that processes of this kind require sensitivity and confidentiality on all sides. Accordingly, we are unable to make any further comments about the process at this stage,” the letter read.
“We trust that we can call upon your sound judgement at all times and that this process be allowed to continue in order for the parties to be given the opportunity to reach a settlement as envisaged by the court when it adjourned the matter for that purpose on 22 January 2016.”
In a swift reaction to the letter, members of the Committee, including Chukwuemeka Ujam, Nicholas Ossai, Johnson Agbonayinma and Anayo Edwin, alleged that some powerful Nigerians were behind the high-handedness of the company and chided the regulatory agencies for bringing the country into disrepute.
The lawmakers also expressed disgust over MTN’s stance, saying that the company’s attitude was capable of eroding the gains of the recent visit of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
Also, Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice and Chief of Staff to the President (who allegedly started the negotiation) did not attend the investigative hearing on Tuesday.
Story by David Oputah