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MTN’s laxity aided Boko Haram, says Buhari


President Muhammadu Buhari welcomes South Africa's President Jacob Zuma to the State House, Abuja on Tuesday PHOTO: Philip Ojisua

President Muhammadu Buhari welcomeing South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma to the State House, Abuja on Tuesday PHOTO: Philip Ojisua

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the failure of South African telecommunication giant, MTN  to disconnect millions of unregistered users aided the activities of Boko Haram.

“You know how the unregistered GSM are being used by terrorists… That was why  NCC (Nigerian Communications Commission) asked the MTN, Glo and the rest of them to register GSM,” Buhari told a joint a press conference held with the visiting President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

He continued: “Unfortunately MTN was very slow and contributed to the casualties. And that was why the NCC looked at its regulations and imposed that fine on them.”

Nigerian Communication Commission  (NCC) had ordered all phone line operators to disconnect unregistered SIMs by mid-2015 on security grounds but MTN missed the deadline.

The company was consequently fined a $3.9 billion. It has since paid out $250 million towards the penalty.

The affair cast a shadow over the build-up to the visit of South African President Jacob Zuma and was expected to have been high on the agenda when he met Buhari for talks in the capital, Abuja.

Buhari emphasised that the country had no intention of witch-hunting MTN. He said the fine became imperative since unregistered lines were a security risk.

“The concern of the federal government was basically on the security, not the fine imposed on the MTN,” he said.

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa inspecting Guards of Honour on his visit to Nigeria. PHOTO: Philip Ojisua

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa inspecting Guards of Honour on his visit to Nigeria. PHOTO: Philip Ojisua

Zuma arrived in Abuja on Tuesday morning in a visit which observers see as an attempt to mend fences between Africa’s largest economic powers.

Pretoria is putting a positive spin on the visit, talking up the pair’s “good bilateral political, economic and social relations” and potential new business opportunities, AFP reports.

Zuma has a sizeable ministerial and business delegation in tow and announced after meeting Buhari that “over 30 bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding” had been signed.

“These agreements cover a wide range of cooperation areas including trade and industry, transport, energy, defence and security and immigration among others,” he said in a speech.

He made no mention of MTN, which challenged the fine in court but withdrew its case to enable negotiations for an agreement.

Nigeria has asked South Africa for closer defence ties, including special forces training in operations against Boko Haram, military spokesman Rabe Abubakar announced late on Monday.

But the MTN affair — and complaints from other South African firms in Nigeria — have dominated discussions against a background of tensions.


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    I Said it earlier MTN could have bank rolled Jacob Zumas visit,Buhari should not discuss that MTN fine with ZUMA ,if that is what brought ZUMA let him go home fast,our security or that of any nation is not negotiadable all

  • If you allow MTN easy pass, deterrent will not be served. Let the fine stay and see who blink last. This action wont halt foreign direct investment as being propagated. Enough is enough.

  • shekonlumi ABDULLAH

    What about the killings of Nigerians in south Africa. The president should be told never such a thing should happen or else Nigeria will react accordingly

  • Airunukhoin

    MTN should pay the money and let the Nigerian govt use the money to rebuild N/E that have been devasted by BH activities. MTN is a bad corporate entity in Nigeria. If am in govt, I’ll ease it out or give it a scheduled termination from Nigeria. How irresponsible can MTN be. According to FMR President Walker Bush, it’s either you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists. In this case, MTN clearly took side with the terrorists. MTN is an evil empire and not fit to be operating in a civilized society. The company is owned by people who hate Nigeria and black people in general and will do anything to disrespect thier host country’s laws and think they can get away with it. I’m surprised that there are no protests in front of MTN offices to face ICC for crime against the people of Nigeria.

  • Tony

    Buhari, your own MTN phone number was unregistered too until MTN cut your line recently, So you are a defaulter of the law too that needs to be punished. But who go punish presido that is above the law?