NCC asks court to dismiss MTN suit against N1.04tn fine

By The Citizen

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss or decline hearing in the suit filed by MTN Nigeria Communications Limited to challenge the N1.04trn fine imposed on it by the commission.

NCC had imposed the N1.04trn fine on MTN for its failure to disconnect its unregistered subscribers in line with the commission's directive.

But not pleased with the sanction, the communications company had through its legal team, comprising seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria, approached a Federal High Court in Lagos seeking an order quashing the fine.

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MTN had urged the court to determine whether NCC could act pursuant to Section 70 of the NCC Act to impose a fine on it without breaching the provisions of sections 1 (3), 4 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution.

The telecommunications company claimed that NCC violated its fundamental right to fair hearing, adding that by imposing the fine, NCC was already usurping 'the exclusive legislative powers of the National Assembly, as well as the judicial powers of the courts established under the Constitution.'

But in a motion on notice filed through its lawyers, Ahmed Raji (SAN) and Mahmud Magaji (SAN), NCC asked the court to dismiss the suit for want of jurisdiction or send it to Abuja.

The commission argued that the suit was wrongly filed in Lagos, noting that the subject of the dispute took place in Abuja, while the two respondents in the suit, NCC and the Attorney General of the Federation, are also based in Abuja.

NCC urged the court to void the service of court processes on it, arguing that the commission failed to comply with Section 143 of the NCC Act in serving the processes.

It asked the court to either dismiss the suit or transfer it to the Abuja division of the court.

MTN in its suit, which has yet to be heard, is contending that it was not afforded enough time to comply with the NCC directive, adding that the commission did not also give it fair hearing before hurriedly announcing the sanction.

It also contended that the sanction of N200, 000 per SIM was excessive, noting that was the highest fine ever imposed on a telecommunications company in the world.

The suit was filed on behalf of MTN by Chief Wole Olanipekun, Tanimola Molajo, A.B. Mahmoud, Dr. Gbolahan Elias, Oladipo Okpeseyi, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu and Dr. Oladapo Olanipekun, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria.