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Mike Adenuga in Legal Battle with MTN & NCC over N1bn Interconnectivity Default

Source: huhuonline.com

All does not seem to be well with principal players in the Nigeria's telecommunication sector, just as the business mogul, Chairman of Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga dragged MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and the sector regulatory body, the

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos over what he described as unfair treatment in the way and manner the regulatory agency handled the interconnectivity agreement dispute between the 2 telecommunication giants, (Globalcom and MTN). The case was presided over by Justice Lambo Akanbi.

How it started and the role of NCC
Huhuhonline.com gathered that the contentious agreement was said to have been entered into by the two telecommunication company sometime in 2003. Under Clause 6.5 of the agreement, it was said that the two telecommunications firms agreed that no party shall invoice for a call later than 60 days after the actual call date. However, according to claims made by Globacom, MTN in clear violation of the clause, made a claim of over N1 billion allegedly being unpaid supplementary invoices issued by MTN to Globacom. Following the alleged dispute generated by the development, NCC was said to have constituted an Arbitration Panel to look into the dispute, which eventually directed Globacom to pay MTN N856 million both as supplementary invoices for calls terminated on MTN's network by Globacom and sum admitted. The panel also directed Globacom to pay the sum within 30 days of the ruling, failure of which the sum would accrue interest till liquidation. Apparently dissatisfied by the panel's decision, Globacom is urging the court to quash the decision of the panel, insisting that the ruling was a grave miscarriage of justice in that the panel failed to make specific findings on fundamental issues in controversy between the parties.

The company also wants the court to restrain NCC and MTN from enforcing the ruling, adding that the panel made decisions on issues not submitted to it and that fair hearing and the rules of natural justice was jettisoned in the entire proceedings. Globacom further argued that the panel failed to furnish it with the records of proceedings and that the panel exhibited bias against it in favour of MTN. However, MTN and NCC have filed separate preliminary objections to the suit, urging the court to strike it out on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter having been filed in gross abuse of court process. In the alternative, the defendants urged the court to refer the matter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for onward transmission of the case to the Abuja division of the court for hearing and determination.

They argued that prior to the filing of the suit; MTN had earlier filed a suit against Globacom at the Abuja division of the court, seeking to enforce the ruling of the Arbitral panel constituted by the NCC. When the matter came up yesterday, the parties informed the court of the processes filed, while Justice Akanbi ruled that it would be neater and better to hear the preliminary objections of MTN and NCC together.

The matter has been adjourned to February 3 for hearing.

Integrity of NCC in the Matter
Huhuonline.com checks have it that the NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Ernest Ndukwe who is at the centre of the storm was never an upright man, and he lacks the integrity to arbitrate between MTN and Globacom, as records have it that he gives undue privileges to expatriates in the industry at the expense of indigenous operators. He is neck deep in corruption and highhandedness. For example he has attained the retirement age spelt out for public servants, but he still stay put, and also causing the nation to lose $1.7 billions in tax from GSM operators for his selfish reasons. Further investigations showed that the NCC boss had in his own defence said his appointment was political and therefore, civil service rules did not apply, he (Ndukwe) had been collecting entitlements that were exclusive to public servants, including contributing to and collecting pensions through the commission. He also ill-advised the Federal Government to give a five-year waiver to network operators operating in Nigeria, leading to a loss of what would have been internally generated funds for Nigeria as a result of that, five-year tax holiday was given to an expatriate company on import duties. He was also too soft to sanction erring GSM operators who are offering poor quality of service to Nigerians, such as drop-calls, high call rates among others.

It would be recalled Dr. Mike Adenuga recently won the Silverbird Man of the Year award for 2009. Adenuga's Globacom launch its Glo Broadband Access Service anchored on the company's state-of-the-art optical fibre cable in 2009. It connects over forty cities in Nigeria and in is reputed to be the largest of such network not just in Nigeria but in Africa. This network enables users to harness the power of instant connectivity, congestion-free traffic and high capacity for enormous volumes of voice, data and video as well as affordability. It would also be recalled that other network providers in Nigeria especially MTN had earlier said per second billing tariff was practically impossible in the Nigerian market. Adenuga was the one who broke that strong monopoly and extortionist tendencies in the telecommunication industry by introducing per second billing system to the teeming subscribers; he however gave a wake up call other stakeholders in the industry and a per second billing system has finally come to say in Nigeria, a step which serves as a respite to many subscribers in Nigeria.

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