Govt, MTN to renegotiate N780 billion fine
• Dismisses secret deal with firm
THE Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, has said government would start a round of fresh talks with MTN very soon over the N780 billion ($3.9 billion) slammed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for contravening regulatory orders.
Shittu, according to Reuters, however, said the final decision rests with President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is (now) for government to meet with them and conclude negotiations,” he stressed.
Last week, MTN withdrew a lawsuit against the Federal Government over the fine, which originally stood at $5.2 billion (N1.04 trillion).
The telecommunications firm, which makes 37 per cent of its sales from Nigeria, was fined for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM users and had paid $250 million (N50 billion) towards a settlement.
Reports have it that the issue could come up when South African President Jacob Zuma visits Nigeria next week for talks with President Muhammadu Buhari.
As per negotiation, the government’s team is to be led by Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the MTN team, led by former U.S. Attorney General and Head of Covington & Burling LLP, Washington DC, Mr. Eric H. Holder, Jr. are expected to consider the merits and demerits of the terms of payment of the fine.
After confirming the N50 billion payment, NCC through its Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, explained that the amount was an unconditional good faith payment, on the basis that the sum would be applied towards eventual settlement agreement for payment of the fine imposed on the company by the commission, while ongoing negotiations between government and the company reaches a final resolution.
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