Confusion Trails Status Of ‘Slashed’ MTN Fine
• Operator Claims Getting New Letter Of 25, Not 35 Per Cent Cut
• NCC Admits Error, Says Presidency Approved 25 Per Cent Reduction
THERE appears to be no end in sight to the lingering crises between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and MTN as confusion continues to trail the status of the fine imposed on the telecoms firm.
The media had yesterday reported a 35 per cent reduction in the N1.04 trillion fine, amounting to N647 billion, according to the letter MTN claimed to have received from NCC on December 2.
It, however, came as a shock when MTN raised alarm through a statement yesterday, claiming that NCC has increased its fine again.
However, NCC Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, at a post event interview yesterday in Lagos, admitted there was an error in the initial letter sent to the telecommunications firm, but that it was a quarter (25 per cent) of the fine that the Presidency actually agreed to be cut off due to the diplomatic intervention. He said that when the error was discovered, they had to quickly communicate MTN about it.
According to the Executive Chairman of MTN, Phutuma Nhleko, in a statement sent to shareholders and made available to journalists on December 3, shareholders were informed that MTN had received a formal letter dated December 2015 from the NCC (the First Letter) informing the company that, after considering the company’s request, it had taken the decision to reduce the fine imposed on the MTN Nigerian business from the original N1, 040, 000, 000, 000 (the Original Fine) to N674 Billion, which had to be paid by December 31. The fine relates to the late disconnection of 5.1 million MTN Nigerian subscribers in August and September 2015. This was a reduction of 35 per cent of the original Fine.
Nhleko however, informed that late on December 3, the day after receipt of the first letter, the company received a further letter from the NCC dated December 3, 2015 (the Second Letter). “The second letter, which was stated to supersede the first letter, informed the company that the fine had actually been reduced by 25 per cent to N780 billion and not by 35 per cent to N674 billion, as was stated in the first letter. The payment date remained December 31.
“Neither the First Letter nor the Second Letter sets out any details on how the reduction was determined”, he stated.
The embattled telecommunications company said it is carefully considering both letters, and that Nhleko will immediately and urgently re-engage with the Nigerian authorities before responding formally, as it is essential for the company to follow due process to ensure the best outcome for the firm, its stakeholders and the Nigerian Authorities, and accordingly all factors having a bearing on the situation will be thoroughly and carefully considered before the company arrives at a final decision.
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