Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has denied any wrong-doing in his handling of the settlement of the fine imposed on MTN Communications Ltd. by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
In a letter written on his behalf by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Salihu Isah, to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, the justice minister accused the Senate of failing to give him fair hearing before accusing him of wrong-doing.
He said that the negotiation with MTN has not been concluded as claimed by the Senators.
Isah said he was compelled to respond to the spate of bad press as well as the obvious and deliberate sponsorship of such reports by those “who ordinarily should investigate and have the capacity to demand an explanation from the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (OHAGF/MOJ) on his role in the matter relating to the N780 billion fine slammed on the MTN Telecommunications Nigeria Limited by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC in which the Company has made N50 billion down payment as a condition for it (MTN) to gain audience with the relevant government agencies for the out-of-court settlement as ordered by the court.”
He said: “However, for the benefit of those in doubt, it is so far, so good for the role my principal has played. I wish to state vividly that, when Mr. Eric Holder, the counsel to the MTN led a team to interface with my principal as the Chief Law Officer of the nation- (mind you, Holder is a former Attorney General of the United States) and so wouldn’t have entered into the meeting if he was not sure my principal was most appropriate to negotiate with; even at that; the former insisted that MTN which the latter represents must show some commitment by ensuring down payment of N50 billion. The Federal Government insistence was that no audience could be granted to the telecom Company or anyone acting on its behalf while the case is still pending in court and in the absence of demonstration of good faith by MTN.
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