26 February 2016

Nigeria: FG Confirms MTN's N50 Billion Lodgement As Part Payment

The Federal Government has confirmed the payment of N50 billion by Mtn as part payment of the N1.04 trillion fine by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

Confirming this to newsmen on Friday, the Special Assistant to the Minister of Communications, Mr. Victor Oluwadamilare, said the payment by telecom company was made with a precursor for an out of court settlement over the matter.

Oluwadamilare, who had on Wednesday told Vanguard that the development had not been made official as it was still under federal government's scrutiny, said the development was in line with promised by MTN to amicably resolve the issue with NCC.

The Nigerian telecom operator, MTN Nigeria had on Wednesday announced the payment of $250 million as part of the N1.04 trillion fine imposed on it by industry regulator.

It will be recalled that the NCC had in October 2015, slammed a fine of N1.04 trillion on MTN for its failure to deactivate over 500,000 unregistered subscribers after series of warning had were issued by the regulator to terminate them.

The company was originally given a fine of $5.2 billion in October, 2015, and after weeks of lobbying by the telecom company, the fine was reduced by 25 percent ($3.9 billion).

MTN Group went to court to challenge the legality of NCC to impose such a huge fine on it but failed to argue its case to logical conclusion.

Not satisfied, the telecom company also went further to hire a former U.S. attorney general to help challenge the propriety of the fine.

The former U.S. law enforcement officer, Eric Holder is said to have pleaded with Nigerian officials last month on behalf of the telecoms company without any fruitful outcome.

After hearing the case, the presiding judge in January gave the two parties a two month period to settle out of court . However, effort to confirm the development from MTN spokesperson did not yield result.

A judge in Lagos also had last month gave both parties until March 18 to reach a settlement, after MTN had asked the court to arbitrate over the dispute, saying the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had no legal grounds to order the fine.

Vanguard checks gathered that MTN on Wednesday resolved to withdraw its court challenge in an effort to reach an amicable settlement and make a payment of $250 million towards a possible settlement.

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