NCC FINE: MTN Backs Down On Trial

The management of MTN, Nigeria’s largest mobile telephone company may have reviewed its decision to contest the penalty imposed on it by the National Communication Commission, NCC, the regulator in the industry.

Wole Olanipekun, senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN leading 10 other SANs for the telephone company told the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos this morning that the company wants to pursue an out of court settlement.

The NCC had fined MTN a sum of N1.04 trillion for failure to deactivate 5.1 million unregistered subscribers on its network. Though the regulator later reduced the amount to N780 billion, MTN went to court to challenge the Commission, which it said had no power to penalise it on the matter. The issue caused a lot of upset within the company with the replacement of its chief executive, by the parent company in South Africa, fuelling fears of the sacking of scores of staff members.

The step taken by the authorities had provoked mixed reactions among Nigerians. While some people felt that the fine is outrageous, some others believe that it could aggravate the country’s economic problem, if MTN decided to exit Nigeria with the attendant loss of direct and indirect jobs. Apparently in a belated attempt to re-register the subscribers, MTN has started an exercise from last year that almost pitch it against lots of its subscribers, because of the untold hardship the re-registration exercise has brought to them. But it is necessary for good record and for security reasons.

The authorities are particularly angered by the failure of MTN to comply with the directive for it to either regularise the unregistered lines or deactivate them, because of fears that some unregistered lines are being used for unwholesome activities. The decision to settle out of court will certainly douse the tension over the matter.


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