The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, yesterday, confirmed that the Federal Government received N50 billion from MTN Nigeria towards the settlement of the N780 billion fine imposed on the telecoms firm.
The confirmation came as the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, denied any role in either negotiating with MTN or directing or receiving the N50 billion from the company.
MTN said, last week, it had withdrawn its lawsuit challenging the fine, and that it had paid N50 billion to the government.
NCC denied knowledge of the negotiations or payment, while ministry of communications admitted the money had been paid.
The disclosure that the ministry received the payment without the knowledge of the NCC angered many Nigerians.
But the minister, Mr. Shittu, said he was told that negotiations took place between MTN and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, but that he was never involved.
"I have not negotiated with anybody," Mr. Shittu said yesterday. "Remember I was not yet a minister when the matter started. At no time was any file ever brought to me on the matter even after my resumption.
The MTN went to court to buy time, but then realized that they were not likely to win in court, and now they are anxious to negotiate. They only told me unofficially that they were withdrawing the case; that they had gone to the Attorney General of the Federation who, they said, asked them to make some down payment for any negotiation to begin."