MTN Nigeria has finally come to the conclusion that it would not pay the N1.04 trn fine, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC imposed on it, for failure to disengage about 5.1 million improperly registered subscribers on its network in August and September 2015.
MTN has decided to challenge the NCC in court. Not even the reduction of the fine to N780 billion last week by the commission, could sway the telecommunications company.
Addressing its shareholders, yesterday, MTN said that “all factors having a bearing on the matter have been thoroughly and carefully considered including a review of the circumstances leading to the fine and the subsequent letters received from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
“MTN Nigeria acting on legal advice has resolved that the manner of the imposition of the fine and the quantum thereof is not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act. Accordingly MTN has followed due process and has instructed its lawyers to proceed with an action in the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking the appropriate reliefs.
MTN is advised that in the current circumstances in line with the pending legal action, the parties are enjoined to restrain from taking further action until the matter is finally determined. This is consistent with previous judicial decisions in Nigeria”.
The telecommunications company said that despite this action, the company will continue to engage with the Nigerian authorities to try and ensure an amicable resolution in the best interests of the company, its stakeholders and the Nigerian authorities.
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, last week reduced the N1.04 trillion fine it imposed on MTN Nigeria to N780 billion. However, the commission also ordered the telecom operator to pay the fine on or before December 31, 2015.
Meanwhile, the MTN’s latest decision has attracted several reactions from stakeholders in the industry
President of Teledom Group, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, feels that taking the matter to court may be a business decision following the nature of Nigeria’s judicial system. “Anything is possible. It may be a business decision, considering that before the case would go through all the levels to Supreme Court, it may have taken five years, of which they may have recouped a lot of gains to pay the fine. But if the court finds out there was an infraction and that the fine by NCC was in the right direction, MTN should know that it would not only pay the fine but also compensations. All these would also impact the sector in one way or the other. So amicable resolution would be the better option”.
In his reaction, President of Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, Engr Lanre Ajayi, said that going to court to seek clarification, was a right no one should fault MTN on, if all other options have been exhausted. He, however, said that he did not believe that it would impact the sector negatively in any way.