FG, MTN begin negotiation on N780bn fine

By The Citizen

In pursuance of an out of court settlement, the Federal Government will begin negotiations with MTN Nigeria on the payment of a N780 billion fine imposed on the telecom firm for failing to deactivate unregistered Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards as directed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), thereby contravening the provisions of the regulation on SIM card registration.

The government's team, led by Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the MTN team led by former U.S Attorney General and Head of Covington & Burling LLP, Washington DC, Mr. Eric H. Holder Jr., are expected to consider the merits and demerits of the terms of payment of the fine.

Meanwhile, the NCC yesterday confirmed Federal Government's receipt of the sum of N50, 000,000,000 (Fifty Billion Naira only), towards settlement of the fine imposed on MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd by the Commission, and its withdrawal of Suit No FHC/1923/2015 - MTN vs. NCC & HAGF

According to a statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, the official information to that effect was received by the commission from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, yesterday, February 29, 2016.

Ojobo explained that the amount is an unconditional good faith payment, on the basis that this sum would be applied towards eventual settlement agreement for payment of the fine imposed on the company by NCC, while the ongoing negotiations between the Federal Government and the company reaches a final resolution.

Ojobo pointed out that the receipt of the amount, and withdrawal of the suit is without prejudice to the final decision of government on the terms of payment being proposed by the company.

It would be recalled that NCC in October 2015 imposed N1.04 trillion fine on MTN Nigeria for failing to fully deactivate subscribers with unregistered and incomplete SIM cards details on their networks within the stipulated time.

However, the fine was later reduced to N780 billion but the MTN sued government over the fine, arguing that it was outrageous.

MTN last week made a down payment of N50 billion out of the amount and had also withdrawn the suit it filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos. The Guardian