N780b fine: NCC confirms receipt of N50b from MTN

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday confirmed receipt of N50billion from MTN as part-payment of the N780billion fine it imposed on the telco last year over subscriber identity module (SIM) card registration rule violations.

NCC-MTN

A statement endorsed by its Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo also confirmed the withdrawal of the legal action instituted against the regulator by the telco.

”NCC wishes to affirm Federal Government’s receipt of the sum of N50billion 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.

“The official information to the Commission to that effect, was received from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, today, 29th February, 2016.

“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 by the Commission, where the ongoing negotiations between the Federal Government and the company reach a final resolution,” Ojobo explained.

He said the Federal Government’s team for the negotiations is being led by the Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, while MTN team is led former U.S Attorney General, and Head of Covington & Burling LLP, Washington DC, Mr Eric H. Holder, Jr.

According to him, the receipt of the money and withdrawal of the suit is without prejudice to the final decision of government on the terms of payment being proposed by MTN, adding that on the basis of the out-of-court settlement, the Federal Government team, is expected to deliberate on the merits and demerits of the terms of payment of the fine “imposed on MTN by the Commission for its failure to deactivate invalid SIM cards as directed by the Commission, thereby contravening the provisions of the regulation on SIM card registration.”

NCC had in October last year imposed a N1.4trillion fine on MTN over its failure to deactivate some 5.2million pre-registered SIM cards active on its network. After several appeals by MTN Group, the fine was reduced to N780billion.

But in a strange twist to the tale, the telco took its regulator to court.

The order to deactivate irregularly registered SIM cards came on the heels of increased security concerns in the Northeast where the Boko Haram insurgents went on rampage and kidnap-for-ransom by unscrupulous elements who hid under the anonymity provided by pre-registered SIM cards to negotiate terms of settlement with relative of their captives.

source: The Nation

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