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MTN must pay N50B ($251,193,500) fine, in addition to the $5.2B Fine currently in deliberation

by Milicent Atieno
MTN must pay N50B ($251,193,500) fine, in addition to the $5.2B Fine currently in deliberation

Late last year, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) slapped MTN Nigeria – a subsidiary of South Africa’s telecommunication group MTN – with a $5.2 billion fine. The fine was retribution by the NCC to MTN Nigeria for not following a government directive to cut off about 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards on its network.

A fine that was described by the Nigerian-based Strand Consult as the biggest penalty of its kind and MTN Group has to lobby for a Government-to-Government talk about the fine. Leading to the met up between S.A President Jacob Zuma and Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari and there were talks of the fine being reduced from $5.2 billion (N1.04 trillion) to $3.4 billion, and payment to be made paid by December 31, 2015. However, this remained subject to the findings of an investigation process by the Nigeria House of Representatives.

During his presentation on the floor of the House of Representatives, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Shitu Adebayo said that on top of the N.104 trillion fine to MTN, the telecom must also pay the Federal Government N50 billion ($252,193,500).

The Minister says the N50 billion fine is not part of the N1.04 trillion ($5.2b) fine that is currently under review by the House. He, however, told the House that as soon as investigations were concluded on the N1.04 trillion fine, it will then be open to negotiations with the telecom.

The Chairperson of the House Committee on Communications, Rep. Saheed Fijabi (Oyo-APC) said the Minister’s comments on the floor were contrary to what he informed the House’ investigative committee.

Fijabi explained that the Minister had denied any involvement in the downward review of the N1.04 trillion fine as well as the N50 billion fine being asked from MTN.

On his part, the Minister said that the government is looking for ways to make the Nigeria ICT sector become the highest revenue earner for the country. He further explains other plans the ministry has to make that ambition a reality, such as the fact they are at an advanced stage of repositioning the Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST). The Ministry is thinking of sourcing for the Chief Executive and the Post Master General from outside the NIPOST by way of open advertisement.

The Minister also had a bone to pick with Nigeria’s indigenous ICT companies. He says they have made 70% of local PC market go to foreign manufacturers. Nonetheless, he assured the House that with the support of the government and an enabling environment, his ministry is going to drive the Nigerian economy notches higher through ICT.

The currency conversion was done by Google currency converter as at May 20, 2016.

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