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‘Buhari to decide MTN’s fate over N1,04trl fine’




PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari may eventually be the one to decide the fate of MTN Nigeria over the N1.04 trillion ($5.2 billion) fine slammed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for violating regulatory orders.

Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who spoke to Technology Times, an online technology news platform, said that final decision on the N1.04 trillion fine will be taken by President Buhari at the appropriate time “in public interest.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the Alliance 4 Affordable Internet Nigeria Coalition conference in Lagos, Shittu reiterated government’s determination to ensure that final decision taken on the fines will be in the public interest.
“The issue is now before Mr. President. He will take the necessary decision at the appropriate time. I think Nigerians will expect that Mr. President would do the best to ensure that the public interest is guaranteed,” the minister said.

Responding to questions on alleged conflicting signals on government’s stance on the fine, the minister said: “I don’t think there is any conflicting position on where government stands on the MTN issue.

Recall that there were violations which were established against MTN. The violations were to the tune of five million. That’s a whole lot. There are many countries where subscribers, in the entire country are not up to half of the five million. In the case of Nigeria, we had more than five million violations.
“Both parties, government and MTN, are on the same page that rules have been broken in this instance.”s

Shittu had earlier stated that Nigeria did not want MTN Nigeria to quit the country because of a $5.2 billion fine imposed on it last month.

The fine – if fully enforced – amounts to more than the past two years of profit for MTN in its biggest market, but Shittu said it should not jeopardise the company’s future in Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.
Reuters had quoted Shittu as saying, “Nobody wants MTN to die. Nobody wants MTN to shut down.”
Nigeria accounts for 37 per cent of revenues for MTN, which operates in more than 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Since the announcement of the fine, its shares have lost nearly 25 per cent of their value.

Meanwhile, reported yesterday, that apart from facing a $5.2 billion fine in Nigeria, MTN has this year already paid millions of rand in other penalties, according to regulators.

MTN announced in October that it has been fined $5.2 billion by the NCC for failing to disconnect up to five-million unregistered SIM cards in that country.

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  • amador kester

    A law is a law. He cannot undermine his regulatory mechanism in public interest for a company that sold fake sim cards to insurgents and kidnappers against public interest. Or else nigerian regulatory mechanism will become the global laughing stock as one fundamentally undermined by executive intervention paving the way to virtual chaos legally in implementation of regulatory mechanism and repelling serious investors

  • xix

    Would Nigeria be imposing such a fine on a Nigerian company? I don’t think so. The scale of this fine is totally out of proportion. The largest fine ever issued to a telecoms company by a regulator in the world is $100 million. A fine of $5.2 billion simply pales in comparison. This fine is tantamount to theft on a massive scale against predominantly South African shareholders, who have put their faith in the future of Nigeria and Africa in general. Nobody can deny that Nigeria’s economy is struggling due to low oil prices. The need to bloster balance sheets has never been stronger, however achieving it by penalising foreign corporations is not the way to go. It will send a strong signal to investors around the world that Nigeria is high risk place to invest. The net effect? Much more than $5.4 billion will be lost to the Nigeria economy.

    • New Nigerian

      Your comments further indicts MTN. Looking at the opportunity cost of the fine is what MTN should have done and abide by the regulations. Rules are rules. I doubt that MTN would flagrantly flout south african laws and regulations in South Africa. Your moral sactification is misplaced. MTN has itself to blame – I can assure you, technically speaking you can disconnect 5 millon subscribers on any network in less than 24 hours – technically there is nothing to it. For MTN to refuse to do it for months and years, even, when it was warned of the impending fines is lording itself in an imperialistic way over the regulators – something it was able to get away with because of the last administrations’ ineptitude. With the new government of the people for the people based on the constitution and the rule of law, the fine is legit and MTN should pay up.

    • emmanuel kalu

      rubbish. They knew the rules, they were warned, they knew the cost and yet they still broke the law. it is now time to pay up. and if they want to leave, they can leave. there are plenty of Telco companies that would take their space. for one Nigeria regulators have indicated that Nigeria is not the world dumping ground. oh by the way, this fine is now the record. good for Nigeria.

    • Dennis

      Playing hardball with foreign companies using the large population of Nigeria as a leverage, that they will never leave such a big market is risky. As an investor I would weigh my options of whether it’s worth investing in a country that its punitive measures are enough to sink my company? I would rather not invest and take my hard earned money somewhere, where I won’t lose my company to ridiculous fines to prop up government fiscal shortfall.

  • Joseph

    Rules are rules, and they’re broken all the time by everyone. MTN should be made to face the music, but not to the point of putting the Nigerian division of MTN out of business and jeopardizing the employment of thousands of people.

    • emmanuel kalu

      when they generate 37% of all their revenue from just Nigeria. They are not going anyway. This kind of action is what Nigerian’s have being begging for. for regulators to do their jobs, and to apply the penalty fairly across board. it is time to pay up.

  • New Nigerian

    I am afraid for this new communications Minister – he may not last in this portfolio. He needs to be press and political savvy. His suggestions are outrageous and the press would amplify it. NCC has done it’s job and he should rather strengthen them not undercut the rule of law and regulations. He should not be carrying MTN’s water for them. If MTN has a problem with the fine, they should go to court to contest it. As for all the analysis of the opportunity cost to MTN of paying the fine – MTN should have factored that into it’s considerations for flagrantly breaking the rules, repeatedly and insisting on allowing 5.6 million unknown people of no fixed address use it’s network in the 3rd most terrorized country in the world. The principle stands, it does not matter if it is $1 fine or $1tr fine, MTN should pay up or go somewhere else with their imperialism. As for putting it in the doorstep of the President, that is wrong for the Minister to do that – the President should not wade into a purely operational issue such as this as he would be undercutting his policy of rule or law and eliminating corruption

  • emmanuel kalu

    Mr. president, we Nigerian’s beg you for the sake of sanity, rule of law and consumer fairness. stay out this issue completely, whether you support the fine or not, completely stay out this. NCC has done it job that we Nigerian’s have being begging our regulators to do. NCC action has also spur other regulators to come alive to their duties. MTN broke the law with the fore knowledge that they would get away with it. Other Telco companies compiled and even gave assurance to the regulator. MTN thinking they are above the law, broke the law. PLEASE let the fine stay, no reduction, no delay in payment. MTN is not going anywhere, they depend on Nigeria market for revenue and if they leave, I am pretty sure that we would get other Telco companies that have being obeying the law, working hard and servicing Nigeria to take the position of MTN. Mr. PRESIDENT, you appointment regulators, give them mandate, please allow them to their job without undercutting them.