N780 billion fine: MTN pays N50 billion, drops lawsuit against Nigeria

MTN Nigeria office

South African mobile phone operator, MTN Group, withdrew its lawsuit against Nigeria’s National Communications Commission, over a N780 billion fine, and paid N50 billion toward a possible settlement.

A judge in Lagos last month gave both parties until March 18 to reach a settlement.

The settlement was opted for after MTN had asked the court to arbitrate over the dispute, saying the NCC had no legal grounds to order the fine.

MTN said it would withdraw its court challenge in an effort to reach an amicable settlement and make a “good faith payment” of N50 billion toward a possible settlement.

The group makes most of its sales in Nigeria.

“This is a sign that the fine could be reduced much further.

“There is some sort of negotiation taking place and the parties are migrating toward a common ground,” said Dobek Pater, Managing Director of Africa Analysis.

Nigeria has been trying to halt the widespread use of unregistered SIM cards amid worries they are being used for criminal activity, including by the Islamist group, Boko Haram.

MTN said in a statement that it resolved to withdraw the case in response to a request by the NCC to afford it the chance to negotiate an amicable settlement.

MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, said the decision to withdraw the case was to create a conducive atmosphere for further negotiations with the Nigerian authorities.

“This is a most encouraging development,” Mr. Noolman said. “It demonstrates a willingness and sincerity by both parties to work together towards a positive outcome.”

The NCC had imposed a N1.04 trillion fine on MTN Nigeria in October 2015, for its failure to disconnect 5.1 million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline.

The penalty was based on fining the company N200, 000 for every unregistered SIM card in use.

Although the fine was subsequently reduced by 25 percent to N780 billion, MTN Nigeria had refused to pay, saying doing so could force the company to go under.

The company later went to court.

Mr. Moolman said with the withdrawal of the court case and the payment of N50 billion that the company was hopeful about reaching an amicable resolution of the crisis soon.

“Along with the authorities (NCC), it is clear that we are collectively committed to working towards a solution that is of mutual benefit to all parties.

“Our industry in Nigeria is an incredibly important example of the remarkable progress in ICT, particularly as a much needed catalyst for socio-economic growth and development at this time,” Mr. Moolman said.

It is not clear whether the NCC has accepted the condition or terms under which the case was withdrawn by MTN.

The Director of Communication, NCC, Tony Ojobo, told PREMIUM TIMES it was too early to comment. He did not elaborate.


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  • FreeNigeria

    This na free money for Nigeria ooooooooo. Oya make we see wetin Govt go do with this money

    • Julius

      Yes, Im with you bro.

  • Paul Young

    This is good to know. we are no longer a joke of a nation that will be taken for a ride by all and sundry.


  • tundemash

    Shame on the usual wailing wailers here who at the start of the application of this penalty were bring up all sorts of ridiculous argument just to spite the govt. No one needs to tell any existing or future investor that Nigerian Laws MUST be obeyed with this development!

  • Dazmillion

    Thank God, Adoke is no longer around to negotiate N50 million as final settlement for Nigeria with Jonathan approving such nonsense as best for Nigeria

  • 9ja deserves better dan Buhari

    The same old thieves from the south west led by the Communicvation Minister stealing from where they did not sow—Haba-from 750b to 50b what an insult.No wonder a Nigerian high court Judge shamelessly collected a bribe of $800 from Ricky Tarfa—–from a firm that has an annual turn over of over 60b—a Nigeria judge is collecting bribne of 800 dollars only—-what a shame–what a country—–let my people go biko–In the case of the Halliburton–thievery Jonathan set up a body to negotiate–made up of a team of lawyers—Buhari borrowed more 2b dollars from the world bank for the north east–Not one Ijaw man was on the board set up to adminsiter the money—In NIMASA–we have Fulanis—The Niger Delta Ministry–There are Fulanis there also————There is no ministry where the Fulanis are not planted—–separation is the answer–not the rule of the thieves from the south west————-

    • Julius

      Jonathan would have directed this money to be deposited in his personal account overseas. Maybe in the name of Dr Fortunato !

      • Truthometer

        Yes o! After all, stealing is not corruption.

        • Julius

          Yep, thats how he ran the country to the ground.

  • Omotolaaraujo

    So it is better to serve Terrorists? The Court must insure that Nigerians are secure.

  • ed

    MTN knew were to pay to that’s they went to court.
    The violation of the law was never knew dispute. The right of NBC to penalize them were not in question.
    Nigerian factor of pay them, the price and get what you want from our justice.

  • Kokoman

    What MTN is implying, reading from their tone, they want to pay the fine by installments. In other to concentrate minds, I urge our regulators to take account of the service charges to the principal, including VAT and at interest rate payable. We will want the money to be N780 million in the end.