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MTN’s fine saga results from defective industry code, NCC admits


•Regulator mulls roundtable with stakeholders
•Operators owe N30b interconnect debt

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has attributed the widely reported fine saga between the commission and MTN Nigeria to defect in the code of corporate governance developed in 2014 to regulate the telecommunications industry.

The regulator had last year slammed a $ 5.2 billion fine (N1.04 trillion) on the telecoms firm for failing to disconnect unregistered subscriber identification module (SIM) cards from its network.

Though the penalty was later reviewed downward.

Danbatta, who spoke at a breakfast meeting organised by the Society for Corporate Governance for sectoral players in Lagos, said the saga was a reflection of the non-binding provisions of the code.

According to him, the declaratory nature of the code had led to violations.

Compliance with the regulation, he noted, was initially made voluntary for a period of one year, which has since elapsed.

Danbatta assured that his commission was gradually moving towards a regime of stricter compliance by engaging industry stakeholders and the public with a view to enthroning an efficient corporate governance structure for the sector.

Represented by the commission’s Corporate Secretary Felix Adeoye, the EVC noted that the code was conceived to protect the interest of investors and stakeholders as well as to promote accountability, responsibility, transparency, integrity and ethical conduct in the industry.

Meanwhile, the regulator has announced plans to start a regulatory roundtable with stakeholders on how to strengthen the sector.

The commission’s Director, Corporate Planning and Strategy, Nnamadi Nwokike, gave the hint yesterday in Abuja at the ongoing Innovation Africa Digital Summit 2016 organised by Galaxy Backbone and Extensia UK.

“Our objective is that overtime we should be able to create a group, Nigerian regulatory group.

“So that we can meet more regularly and meet in different committees to discuss the issue of spectrum regulations and other areas affecting the telecoms sector,” he added.

However, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, has condemned imposition of lethal sanctions on players, saying they should be proportional.

He said efforts should be made by the regulator to protect the operators because of the importance of the sector to the nation’s economy.

Adebayo disclosed that the telecoms firms were owing up to N30 billion for interconnect services.

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