MTN gets deadline to pay N1.04 trillion fine
THERE are indications that MTN Nigeria has been given a deadline, which terminates on November 16, to pay the N1.04 trillion fines slammed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for contravening regulatory orders or face further sanctions.
MTN was fined by the NCC for failing to disconnect 5.2 million subscribers who had unregistered SIMs and incomplete registration details on its network.
A source at the Ministry of Communications Technology told The Guardian, on condition of anonymity, that should MTN fail to pay the fees within the stipulated time, the telecommunications firm may lose its operating licence, which is due for renewal in 2016.
According to the source, the presidency is now involved in the issue, especially because of the aspect of the matter that has to do with security situation of the country.
Unregistered SIM cards are seen as a major security threat by the Federal Government, which is concerned that anonymous numbers facilitate terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery and other criminal activities.
A source at the NCC, yesterday said before the matter got to this level, the commission had consistently engaged Mobile Network Operators, (MNOs) to strictly adhere to the regulations and its business rules in the registration of their subscribers.
In spite of these engagements, the source said, the commission confirmed various cases of violations of the regulations and sanctioned appropriately.
According to the source, the commission monitored MNOs compliance with the regulations and in 2012 observed irregularities in the registration process.
“Given the recent security concerns in the country, government held several meetings with MNOs on the need to ensure only properly registered SIM Cards are active on their networks.
“On August 4,2015 another high level meeting was held with the MNOs. Consequent upon which earlier directives were reinforced with a deadline to deactivate all invalid/improperly registered SIM Cards within seven days ending August 11, 2015.
“Three days after the deadline, the commission carried out a compliance audit of all the MNOs from August 14th to 18th. The outcome of the Audit showed that while all other MNOs complied substantially with the directive to deactivate improperly registered SIM Cards, MTN showed no sign of compliance at all,” the NCC source stated.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has mandated its Committee on Telecommunication to investigate the non-compliance by telecommunication companies, with directives to deactivate unregistered SIM cards on their networks.
The House which, yesterday, frowned at the allegations of allied abuses of good corporate governance by telecommunication companies operating in Nigeria, also asked the committee to investigate the NCC role in allowing MTN and other companies to disregard the directive to complement efforts to keep the country safe and secure.
The committee headed by Saheed Akinade Fijabi (APC, Oyo) is to report its findings to the chamber within three weeks.
The House resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion brought by Oluwole Oke (PDP, Osun) who raised the alarm over the telecommunication companies’ selective compliance with the directive thereby compromising the cardinal objective for the introduction of the exercise.