At Last, FG Reduces MTN Fine to N330bn


By Dele Ogbodo in Abuja

After nearly six months of negotiation and re-negotiation between MTN and Federal Government over the N1.04Trillion fine imposed on MTN, Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the fine was on Friday reduced to N330 billion.

In statement signed by NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, and which was made available to the media in Abuja, said this amount includes the “goodwill” payment of N50 billion earlier made by MTN to the government.

The statement read: “The balance of N280 billion will be made in six tranches in the following order. By the terms of agreement, MTN will pay N30 billion into NCC’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 30 days from the date of the agreement dated June 10, 2016.

“Other dates of payments include: March 31, 2017: N30 billion,  March 31, 2018:  N55 billion, December 31, 2018: N55 billion, March 31, 2019:               –       N55 billion and the balance will be in May 31, 2019: N55 billion.

The agreement and resolutions, according to the statement were jointly signed by the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Felix Adeoye, Chief Executive of MTN, Fredinand (Fredi) Moolman and MTN’s Company Secretary, Mrs. Uto Ukpanah.

Witnessed to the agreement included, Mr. Tony Ojobo, NCC, Director, Public Affairs; Mr. Usman Malah, Chief of Staff to the EVC, NCC; Ms Helen Obi, Assistant Director, Legal, NCC and Ms. Amina Oyagbola, Corporate Executive, MTN.

The statement further explained that it was also agreed that MTN shall undertake the followings: “Tender an apology in line with the apology previously tendered in correspondences relating to this matter to the Government of Nigeria and Nigerians within the one month of the execution of this Agreement.

“Subscribe to the voluntary observance of the Code of Corporate Governance for the Telecoms Industry and would ensure compulsory compliance when the said Code is made mandatory for the telecommunications industry.

“Undertake to take immediate steps to ensure the listing of its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as soon as commercially and legally possible after the date of execution of this Settlement Agreement.”

Both parties THISDAY also learnt agreed that these terms of settlement cannot be altered, varied, annulled or modified in any respect, except by writing duly executed by both parties; and the terms of settlement constitute all the terms and conditions of the settlement and supersede and replace any previous offers, representations and terms.

“It will be recalled that the NCC on October 20, 2015, imposed a fine of N1.04 trillion on MTN for infraction of the provisions of the Nigerian Communication Commission (registration of the telephone subscribers) regulations, 2011 for failure to disconnect 5.1million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline.”

In arriving at the agreement, the EVC said our decision was taken based on professionalism and global best practices, and in line with the NCC core value “to be fair, firm and forthright”

“We were careful not to take decisions that were likely to cripple the business interest of the operators we regulate.  Besides, the downturn of the global economy is biting hard on everybody and every sector, so we must therefore be sensitive and flexible in our decisions.” the statement added.

According to the EVC, the Commission has always carried industry and stakeholders along in taking transparent regulatory actions, adding that at no point will the regulator do anything to jeopardise the business health of the entire sector.