Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Communications has rejected the reduction of the fine slammed on MTN Nigeria Ltd to N300 billion, and again insisted that the full fine of N1.04 trillion must be paid by the telecommunications firm.
It also ordered all parties involved in the matter to stay action pending the outcome of its investigations.
The Committee, led by Hon. Saheed Akinade Fijabi (Oyo APC) summoned the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, and the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Umar Danbata, to appear before it next Monday to explain the reduction of the N1.04 trillion fine despite the insistence of the House that the fine must be fully paid.
MTN had been penalised by the NCC for failing to deactivate 200,000 unregistered SIM cards, in line with regulations.
Briefing newsmen on Friday, Fijabi expressed surprise at the news of the reduction, adding that it reneges on an agreement with the Minister, and the NCC and the Attorney General of the Federation, that all negotiations should be suspended until the House concludes its investigations.
“And the question now is, who is doing the negotiation leading to this latest development? The last time the minister was here, he said there was no ongoing negotiation with MTN until the report of the committee was out and the resolution reached by the House. So I am wondering where this is coming from”, Fijabi said.
“In the NCC Act and ancillary laws that were used to fine them, there is no where it was stated that the fine could be reduced. And as a House we are still maintaining our earlier stand that MTN must pay the N1.04 trillion fine,” he added.
Fijabi recalled the President Buhari had captured the damage caused by the failure of MTN to adhere to regulations, thereby enabling the use of unregistered sim cards by terrorists to perpetrate evil in the Northeast leading to the death of over 10,000 Nigerians.
The lawmaker therefore wondered why the issue of the fine was being handled with such triviality, despite the implication of the office.