N780BN FINE: NCC Slams MTN, Denies N50bn Payment Claim

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, yesterday distanced
itself from claims by MTN Nigeria that it persuaded the phone company
to withdraw its lawsuit for both sides to reach an out-of-court
settlement over a N780 billion fine imposed by the regulator.The
commission also deniedknowledge of MTN's claim that it made a part
payment of the fine.MTN had announced Wednesday that it was dropping
its legal challenge, and making a "good faith" payment of N50 billion
to enable the two sides reach an amicable solution on the matter."This
is a most encouraging development. It demonstrates a willingness and
sincerity by both partiesto work together towards a positive outcome,"
MTN Nigeria's Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, had said.But the
Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Tony Ojobo, saidyesterday the
commission was neither aware of MTN's decision to withdraw its court
case, nor pay $250 million (about (N50 billion) tothe Nigerian
government."We, NCC, are not privy to it (agreement to withdraw a case
from court and pay$250 million by MTN). We do not have anything to do
withit. We do not have any evidence of payment of any money to the
Nigerian government.''There is no invoice to that effect. We have also
not gotten any official information or confirmation that they have
withdrawn their case in court."That information is not fromus, NCC. It
is MTN that released it from South Africa.We have not got into any
discussion on the modalitiesof payment of the fine.''Whatever MTN is
doing does not affect the fact that a regulatory fine was imposed and
payment is expected," Ojobo said.Mr. Ojobo, however, assured that the
NCC management would meet later to review the report and take a
decision that would be communicated to the public through an official
statement."We have not even met to take a decision like that. There
was no discussion whatsoever with NCC on the matter. MTN has not even
met with the committee thatwas set to discuss these issues."On what
basis was the agreement made? We do notknow the basis on which they
arrived at the $250 million they claim to have paid.''For now, no
official position on this. We are just hearing it in the news like
every other person," he explained.The NCC had in October
2015,sanctioned MTN, Nigeria's largest mobile operator, for failing to
disconnect 5.1 million improperly registeredlines within the
prescribed deadline in compliance with its regulatory directive to
telecom operators in the country.The penalty was based on N200,000
fine imposed for every unregistered SIM card in use on any telecom
operator's network.Although the fine was subsequently reduced by 25per
cent to N780 billion, MTNNigeria failed to pay the penalty.The company
later filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos to challenge
theNigerian government's action.The court gave both parties until
March 18, 2016 to reach an amicable out-of-court settlement over the
matter.When contacted, spokesperson for MTN, Funso Aina, said he
should be given some time to respond.

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Benue Blog Portal: N780BN FINE: NCC Slams MTN, Denies N50bn Payment Claim
N780BN FINE: NCC Slams MTN, Denies N50bn Payment Claim
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