Lawmaker, Group Sue AGF, Others over Reduction of MTN Fine


A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Raphael Igbokwe, and a group, Nigerians against Exploitation by Telecommunications Operators, have dragged the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, his communications counterpart, Mr. Adebayo Shittu and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), before the Federal High Court Abuja, over the reduction of the N1.04trillion fine imposed on MTN Communications Ltd, to N330billion.

Also joined in the suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/448/2016 is MTN, which was slammed with the fine for failure to deactivate 200,000 unregistered SIM cards in line with NCC regulations.

The plaintiffs want the court to determine if the defendants are constitutionally empowered to reduce the fine, which was calculated based on the existing regulations.

Igbokwe, in his affidavit, argued that the defendants lack the power to amend, alter, adjust or vary any provisions of legislation or law validly made by the National Assembly, or any rules, regulations and orders validly made by pursuant to an Act of the National Assembly.

He added that his interest in the case is based on the need to develop the country’s jurisprudence.

The plaintiffs also want the determination of the court on whether or not Sections 45 (1), 146(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act, and Sections 19(1) and (2) and 20(1) and (2) of the Nigerian Communications (Registration of Telephone Subscribers) Regulations 2011 have been breached.

These include a determination on whether or not the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has the power to investigate the circumstances surrounding the reduction of the fine imposed on MTN Communications Nigeria Ltd. Igbokwe argued that sections 45(1) and 146(1) of the NCC Act, cap N97, laws of the Federation 2004 and sections 19(1) and (2), 20(1) and (2) of the NCC (Registration of Telephone Subscribers) Regulations 2011 have been violated by the 1st and 2nd Defendants (NCC and MTN) in the suit.

NCC Act being a law validly made by the National Assembly in exercise of the powers conferred on it under section 4 of the constitution has been violated, he said.

“Importantly also, the NCC (Registration of Subscribers) Regulation 2011, which imposed fine on any operator who fails to register, deregistered or transmit the details of any individual or corporate subscriber to the central database of the NCC has been violated by the 2nd defendant.” It read further that, ”Section 20 of the NCC Regulation provides 20(1) “any licensee who activates or fails to deactivate a subscription medium in violation of any provisions of this regulation is liable to a penalty of N200,000.00 for each unregistered but activated subscription medium.