8 March 2016

Nigeria: President Buhari Authorises Fresh N780 Billion MTN Fine Negotiations

Photo: Creative Commons
(file photo).

South African telecoms company, MTN, is free to renegotiate the N780 billion imposed on it by the Nigerian government, President Muhammadu Buhari announced Tuesday.

Mr. Buhari made the announcement at a joint news conference with South Africa's President Jacob Zuma in Abuja, the News Agency of Nigeria reported.

Mr. Zuma is on an official visit to Nigeria.

The fine, imposed by the Nigeria Communications Commission in October 2015, has been a subject of controversy for months. The commission initially fined MTN N1.04 trillion for failing to disconnect 1.2 million unregistered subscribers, but later reviewed the sum to N780 billion.

The telecommunications company has yet to pay the fine. In January, MTN took legal action, challenging the powers of NCC to impose the fine.

After missing repeated deadlines for payment, MTN announced late February it had paid N50 billion in "good faith" for the matter to be resolved. The company also announced the withdrawal of its lawsuit.

The payment was confirmed by the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, after the NCC and Ministry of Communications denied knowledge of the talks.

President Buhari's announcement Tuesday, his first public comments on the matter, confirmed earlier reports that he had long overruled the NCC and the communications ministry, and had reserved final decision on the case to his office.

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