11 January 2019

Nigeria: MTN, CBN Settle Out of Court

Photo: Premium Times
An MTN facility in Abuja.

Following the resolution of the dispute between MTN Nigeria Limited and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday accepted the out-of-court-settlement by the telecoms firm and the apex bank.

The CBN had last August directed MTN Nigeria to reverse repatriations valued at $8.1 billion done on its behalf by four commercial banks between 2007 and 2015 on the basis of Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs), which were alleged to have been irregularly issued to MTN Nigeria.

It, however, reversed decision on December 24, 2018.

But before then, the telecoms giant had gone to court to challenge the apex bank's decision.

At the resumed hearing of the case yesterday, MTN counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) who lead other Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Mr. Damian Dodo; Professor Fabian Ajogwu and Adeniyi Adegbonmir, informed the judge that parties in the suit had resolved their dispute amicably and consequently filed a terms of settlement dated December 28, 2018.

Counsel to the CBN, Mr. Henry Ejiofor, confirmed the position in court and urged the court to enter a terms of settlement as the judgment in the case.

Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) represented by Olanike Idenu, who however did not oppose terms of settlement, asked that its name as the second defendant should be struck out from the matter.

In a short ruling, Justice Saidu thanked all the parties for not wasting the time of the court by going through the rigour of trial.

He consequently, adopted the terms of settlement as the judgment of court.

The judge also struck out the name of the AGF from the suit.

At the last adjourned date, Olanipekun had hinted the court that his client had decided to pursue an out-of-court settlement with the CBN.

He said his client had approached CBN for an amicable settlement of the dispute.

Olanipekun said, "May it please your lordship, the matter today is slated for hearing of pending applications, but we owe the court a duty to inform it that parties are engaged.

"Counsel have conferred, and in view of this, we are asking for a short date for report,"

On his part CBN counsel, Sowemimo, said, "We have advanced stages towards settlement, and it remains to cross the Ts and dot the Is; it is just for report of settlement,"

Following the development and based on agreement of parties, Justice Saidu, adjourned for a report on the settlement.

However, the settlement was given further credence on December 24, 2018 when the CBN said it had reversed its sanction on MTN.

The Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, explained that following the keen interest shown by various stakeholders, sequel to the regulatory action, the CBN committed to engage further with MTN with a view to achieving an equitable resolution.

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