EXCLUSIVE: N780 billion fine: Nigerian govt. slams MTN, denies N50 billion payment claim

MTN Nigeria office

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, on Thursday distanced itself from claims by MTN Nigeria that it persuaded the phone company to withdraw its lawsuit for both sides to reach an out-of-court settlement over a N780 billion fine imposed on MTN by the regulator.

The commission also denied knowledge of MTN’s claim that it made a part payment of the fine.

MTN had announced Wednesday that it was dropping its legal challenge, and was making a “good faith” payment of N50 billion to enable the two sides reach an amicable solution on the matter.

“This is a most encouraging development. It demonstrates a willingness and sincerity by both parties to work together towards a positive outcome,” MTN Nigeria’s Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, had said.

But the director of communication, NCC, Tony Ojobo, told PREMIUM TIMES exclusively on Thursday that the commission was neither aware of MTN’s decision to withdraw its court case, nor pay $250 million (about (N50 billion) to the Nigerian government.

“We (NCC) are not privy to it (agreement to withdraw a case from court and pay $250 million by MTN). We do not have anything to do with it. We do not have any evidence of payment of any money to the Nigerian government. There is no invoice to that effect. We have also not gotten any official information or confirmation that they have withdrawn their case in court,” Mr. Ojobo said.

“That information is not from us (NCC). It is MTN that released it from South Africa. We have not gotten into any discussion on the modalities of payment of the fine. Whatever MTN is doing does not affect the fact that a regulatory fine was imposed and payment is expected,” he said.

Mr. Ojobo however assured that the NCC management would meet later Thursday to review the report and take a decision that would be communicated to the public through an official statement.

“We have not even met to take a decision like that. There was no discussion whatsoever with NCC on the matter. MTN has not even met with the committee that was set to discuss these issues.

“On what basis was the agreement made? We do not know the basis on which they arrived at the $250 million they claim to have paid. For now, no official position on this. We are just hearing it in the news like every other person,” Mr Ojobo explained.

The NCC had in October 2015 sanctioned MTN, Nigeria’s largest mobile operator, for failing to disconnect 5.1 million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline in compliance with its regulatory directive to telecom operators in the country.

The penalty was based on N200, 000 fine imposed for every unregistered SIM card in use on any telecom operator’s network.

Although the fine was subsequently reduced by 25 per cent to N780 billion, MTN Nigeria failed to pay the penalty.

The company later filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos to challenge the Nigerian government’s action.

The court gave both parties until March 18, 2016 to reach an amicable out-of-court settlement over the matter.

When contacted, spokesperson for MTN, Funso Aina, said he should be given some time to respond to PREMIUM TIMES inquiry.

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  • MilitaryPolice01

    Chai na who we go believe na

    • Sincerely Yours

      I wonder ooo! This is what ‘oyinbo’ man calls “He said, she said”.

  • Curious K

    Apparently the NCC has been sidelined by higher authorities, wouldn’t be surprised to see NCC reverse this statement tomorrow. It has been the norm with the present administration.

    • tundemash

      Mr. Sore Loser, on what basis do u choose to believe a company that flagrantly disobey the directive of a regulatory body ?

      • emmanuel

        Everything about you is walling wailers or sore losers. Are you not intelligent enough to make valid comments? Are you married, do you have a family, do they know how shallow your intellect is? Wonder why everyone own the forums your visit easily pick out all the aliases you use for your nefarious counter comments?
        Do yourself some good and see a Psychiatrist, before your situation get out of hand.

      • Curious K

        Mr pleased Winner, what has March 28th got to do with the issue at stake? president Buhari may be your God, Jonathan wasn’t mine and his reign made no impact on my life so i don’t give a hoot. It wasn’t NCC that slashed the fine by 25%, those who slashed the fine might be the ones who collected the 50Billion. Finally, if other industrial sectors are half as regulated as the Telecom sector, our problems in this country will abate.

        • tundemash

          Be bold enough to mention names and stop splashing mud all over the place to taint others like your masters. Who are those who slashed the fine and “might be the one who collected N50bn” from MTN ?
          March 28th has got same meaning as your insinuation “It has been the norm with the present administration”.
          In your warped mind is anyone who is castigating ignorant ones like you is a disciple of some mini-god in government. Waiting for you to mention names of those who slashed the fine and got paid the N50bn .

      • FactsandFigures

        Curious is right. Whatever negotiations that happened between MTN and Nigerian did not include the NCC…..except if we assume that MTN is lying. It is good that NCC spoke out otherwise whatever cash may disappear somewhere between SA and Nigeria with no one being the wiser. Any negotiation that involved any official from this administration that does not include the NCC is wrong. Let’s call a spade a spade.

        • tundemash

          U claim “Curious is right. Whatever negotiations that happened between MTN and Nigerian did not include the NCC”

          Where in this report did you read MTN negiated with anyone in Nigeria aside NCC or you are just desperately looking for a smoking gun ?

          U claim “…..except if we assume that MTN is lying.”

          And yet you claim Curious is right and at same time you can’t vouch for MTN?. Was that not what i was querying the confused Curious for why he chose to believe MTN at the expense of NCC ?

          • FactsandFigures

            Don’t get it twisted – What did MTN say and what was NCC’s reponse? It is either they both told the truth, one lied or both lied. You can choose to argue from any of the given premises or not. I choose the perspective that MTN told the truth in this case….simply going by our political precedents. I am equally happy with NCC’s response …….better for them to absolve themselves now rather than later.

          • tundemash

            So exactly what was confusing to you in my statement to Curious querying him why he chose to believe a company that flagrantly and willfully disobey a regulatory body ? And here u are now claiming it is “better for them to absolve themselves now rather than later”.
            There is really no need confusing yourself, you ought to allow Curious explain himself unless you wee able to read his mind across the ocean.

          • FactsandFigures

            I got what he meant but you just jumped in because for whatever reason you cannot bear it when the administration is criticized……even when done in good faith.

          • tundemash

            U are accusing of same thing u are quilty of. o one including u, him or me knows the true situation of things and I queried why he chose to believe a company that chose to disobey a directive when nothing has been confirmed. Using same logic, could it also mean that you and him are stil hurting over the March 28th loss ?

          • FactsandFigures

            No, I’m not hurting over the March 28th loss. Buhari was the better choice and I support his administration….However, I have moved to “good governance mode” while you appear to be still stuck in a “campaign mode”. Do not sell out your conscience…….criticize/support the administration when/where necessary. Shed the sycophant toga.

  • Arabakpura

    Common guys! Collect “the good faith” payment and still ask for the principal! The God of Buhari is truly alive!

  • emmanuel

    The APC Gwoferment is very kwerupt. They have shown that some water are passing under the bridge already, and true to it this case will be messed up big time.
    Recall how Liar Mohammed fought Ibim Seminitari over their Presidential Media campaign cash? He wanted to handle and chop from money made available by Amaechi (stolen from River State Reserve) at the exclusion of the Girl underground.
    That is the colour of the Minister. Chop chop day smell here!

  • Omooba Adekunle Orafidiya

    Why is the Nigerian government allowing MTN to string it along? More than time the irresponsible company’s operating licence was revoked. Nonsense. I actually blame NCC for reducing the fine in the first place.

  • george

    This is a government by the Liars, for the Liars and by the topmost Liars.

    Denies budget, denies every things, APC SHAME

    • Paul Young

      Beautiful nonsense

  • Debekeme

    The Minister of communication is Buhari’s friend and not from corporate
    background. Hes the one confusing this whole thing with statement as if
    hes negotiating for an extra piece of meat in a restaurant. Hes quite the simpleton.

    The NCC guys know how to deal with MTN but these politicians are messing things up.

    I honestly dont like MTN. Arrogance personified. Their business strategy IS basically to exploit and push agendas that boarder on the unethical.

    I had a MTN contact line and I’ve dumped it. Not one free thing have i gotten from them except over billing, unsolicited calls/sms and fraudulent promos.

    • emmanuel

      MTN is very fraudulent. The contract line i had in the past was a scam.
      Once you recharge a large sum, they drain in very fast and no one does anything to them.

      • Debekeme

        You don’t even want to delve into their finances and how they leverage on off shore shell companies and exploit Nigeria’s weak regulatory environment etc. All sorts on unethical stuff.

        DSTV and MTN should be stripped naked in the market square and pelted with rotten tomatoes.

        They like Nigerias money but have ZERO respect or love for us.

  • Man_Enough

    MTN is just taking Nigeria on a rollercoaster ride. I can’t believe that a general of the Nigerian army is in charge. The government should slam these fuckers and let hell break loose. Confiscate their assets and put their officials behind bars. That fine can settle the workers that will be affected.

  • 9ja is finished under buhari

    It serves the Mumu South Africans Right—————-They sold Jonathan cheap to the Fulanis ati the Yorubas—in Nigeria———–So that the Fulanis would take over–Following their refusal to sell arms to Jonathan–over the directives of the Americans that they the SAs should not allow Jonathan get arms from them to use in defeating boko haram-That the USA set up to destabilize Nigeria—The Yoruba man in charge of the Ministry of Communication wants to steal period—-The entire rubbish has driven investors away from the country-to Togo and Republic of Benin—But do they care–provided————-the thieves in APC Share out of the ongoing loot of the National vault —–from 780b to 50b

  • 9ja is finished under buhari

    The Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State on Tuesday has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over alleged corrupt practices of the former Rivers Governor, Rotimi Amaechi. The party has insisted that if Pres. Muhammadu Buhari is serious about going after corrupt individuals, then Amaechi – who ruled the state between 2007 and 2015 – should be a candidate.

    The position of the PDP was stated to journalists by its Deputy Publicity Secretary in Rivers, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike. Nwanosike called on Buhari to speak up on how the Amaechi administration managed the affairs of the state. said since President Buhari had promised to maintain a zero tolerance for corruption, he should not be silent on how the past administration in Rivers managed the affairs of the state.

    He alleged that the proceeds from some past transactions in Rivers could not be trace and lamented about how the incumbent governor had to borrow to pay salary arrears, which the Amaechi administration failed to pay.

    According to Nwanosike, “Since the President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, has told the world that he is a man with zero tolerance for corruption, we, the people of Rivers, are asking that there should be no sacred cow. We are saying that corruption in Rivers State should be investigated and justice should be done.

    “As we speak to you, we cannot trace the proceeds that emanated from all the government’s transactions that took place in Rivers State.”

    • favourtalk

      Get a life, we are talking about MTN here not rotimi.

    • muazu wali

      Nonsense. Please understand what is going on. The focus is on funds for the procurement of arms. Anything outside this may have been raised elsewhere. You can petition against Amaechi if you have the necessary facts. This is democracy at work.

  • Paul Young

    This is good news. MTN is more or less on their knees begging Nigeria to accept a $250 million settlement. I think that is a very handsome amount and i will take it if i were in charge. The point has already been made. The money isnt the important thing here after all we are Nigerians, not beggars. The important thing is that all these corporations fleecing Nigeria(especially in taxes and royalties) should see this as a warning note to them. Things have changed in Nigeria, no more will we be taken for a ride by multi nationals. Next bus stop should be the IOC’s


    • SayNo2Tribalism

      How can 50 billion out of 780 billion be “a handsome amount”?

      • Paul Young

        50 billion on its own is a handsome amount. That money can construct up to 50 new roads from scratch. In my state my former governor uduaghan managed to construct one flyover just before he left office and he claimed it cost 3 billion, which is a gross over estimation. No more than 2 billion at most. Even at 3 billion,we can construct 16 solid fly overs with 50 billion.I dont know what isnt handsome there

  • favourtalk

    If it had been the past government, they would have taken all this things for granted but the new government means business and MTN can’t just play with Nigeria business environment and people again. Let the law prevail

  • Basketmouth

    Buhari this, GEJ that, Tinubu sleep, Osinbajo woke up!!! Instead of coming out with thoughtful ideas to move the nation and the entire system forward, we are busy talking about individuals. Great mind talk about ideas, average mind talk about issues and small minds talk about others. Categorize yourself period

    • muazu wali

      At least they are talking about something. What do you talk about? Assess yourself before you assess others.

      • Basketmouth

        Why don’t you be honest and bear your progenitor’s name?

        • muazu wali

          Basket you cannot even talk. I could not place your comments.

  • Curious K

    I hope you will stop arguing now that the FG has confirmed receipt of the 50 Billion from MTN. By the way, I hope you have learnt some lessons in civility

  • Curious K

    Seems you have gone into hiding with recent revelations? Wake up Bro, the more things change, the more the remain the same.