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MTN withdraws suit, pays N50b fine …….We have not been informed, says NCC

MTN withdraws suit, pays N50b fine
…….We have not been informed, says NCC

Embattled telecommunications firm, MTN Nigeria, has withdrawn the legal suit it filed at a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, against the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the N780 billion fine slammed on it for contravening regulatory orders in the country.

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Besides, to show its readiness for further negotiation, MTN said it had equally paid ($251.3 million) N50 billion from the fine.
The original MTN fine of $5.2 billion was slammed on the firm at $1,000 for every unregistered Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) card in use.

The telecommunications firm, in a statement, yesterday, said the move was a renewed step towards a negotiated settlement and to create a conducive atmosphere for further negotiations.

MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, speaking on the issue said: “This is a most encouraging development. It demonstrates a willingness and sincerity by both parties to work together towards a positive outcome.”

The statement confirmed that MTN Nigeria has paid N50 billion to the Federal Government as a gesture of good faith and commitment to continued efforts towards an amicable resolution.

It will be recalled that the NCC had imposed a N1.04 trillion fine on MTN Nigeria in October 2015, for its failure to disconnect 5.1 million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline.

Speaking further about the withdrawal of the court case and the N50 billion payments, Moolman stated: “We are hopeful at this stage. Along with the authorities, it is clear that we are collectively committed to working towards a solution that is of mutual benefit to all parties. Our industry in Nigeria is an incredibly important example of the remarkable progress in ICT particularly as a much needed catalyst for socio economic growth and development at this time.”

But the NCC said it was not aware of the development. The Public Affairs Director of the commission, Tony Ojobo, in a telephone chat with The Guardian, yesterday, said there had not been any official communications to them from MTN.

Ojobo said: “As I am talking to you now, no official statement from MTN as regards this their new move. I have called our Legal and Regulatory Department, they said they were not aware. They said no official statement had come from the telecommunications firm. I am not a party to rushing to the press before communicating to the regulator officially. At least, they (MTN) were supposed to discuss this issue with the committee set up to look at the matter, but they have not done so, but have announced in the media.”

It will be recalled that the Federal High Court had adjourned the MTN/NCC case till March 18, with the possibility of the telecommunication outfit settling out of court or hearing in the case would commence.

The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, had declared in an interaction with journalists in Lagos, that for any out of court settlement, MTN must pay some fraction of the fine before any form of review of the sanction.

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