Mtn Must Pay – Reps Insist, As Group Pleads For Leniency

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BEVERLY HILLS, March 09, (THEWILL) – The House of Representatives has declared that the N1.4trillion fine imposed on MTN by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) must be fully paid refusing the N780billion agreement the Federal Government negotiated with the telecommunications firm.

This was revealed as the House Committee on Telecommunications met with the Minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, and top officials of NCC, on Wednesday in Abuja

They expressed displeasure over the role played by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, in the negotiations leading to a reduction in the $5.2billion fine insisting that Malami usurped the powers of the NCC.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Sajeed Fijabi, noted that the NCC, being the government approved regulator, should have led the negotiations and not the AGF.

“There is nowhere in the law that said there is room for reduction,” he said.

“If you are reducing this now, what happens to Globacom and others? I see MTN going to court every time as a way to circumvent the law. In the US, British Petroleum paid its full fine for oil spills.”

“Somebody is not allowing you to handle this matter the way you should. After you have imposed the fine, somebody negotiated and reduced it.”

“You imposed the fine, you should take the lead on the negotiations, but now you are being sidelined. You gave them N1.4tn fine, and we at the National Assembly have already projected that amount as part of FG revenue.”

Meanwhile, the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) has pleaded with the Federal Government to be lenient with the fine imposed on MTN.

Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, President of NATCOMS, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos while urging the Federal Government to accept the N50 billion payment by MTN Nigeria as the total fine.

“The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and indeed the Federal Government should now show some magnanimity in accepting the payment in good faith,” he said.

“This will ensure that MTN continues to be in business in Nigeria. Our fines must be corrective and not as penal as to close down foreign investment interests in Nigeria. Nigerian regulators must not be excessively harsh in order not to send wrong signals to investors interested in Nigeria.”

Story by David Oputah