According to the Financial Times’ reports, MTN Nigeria was warned that the deactivation of unregistered sims was an issue it had to take seriously because of the implications they had for security. In Nigeria, unregistered sims have been used as tools to perpetuate crimes such as kidnapping, bank fraud, theft, and other such vices.
FT’s report states that: “people familiar with the Nigerian regulator’s decision said the chief executives of the four main telecoms operators in Nigeria were summoned to a meeting with the heads of the state’s main security agencies last month. They were warned that the government saw the deactivation of unregistered sim cards as a priority security matter and that non-compliance could lead to the revocation of operating licenses”.
“While the three smaller telecoms companies, Glo, Etisalat and Airtel had made efforts to deactivate non-registered subscribers by August 11, MTN is alleged to have not heeded 12 months of warnings ahead of that deadline, had not deactivated a single unregistered subscriber and made only partial progress in doing so after the meeting at the presidency.
MTN declined to comment on the allegations but analysts said the fine was a massive blow to the company.
Analysts say that it was too early to tell if the fine would have to be paid in full or if a settlement could be reached.
MTN has a history of regulatory challenges in Nigeria. It has faced restrictions since 2013, when the regulator declared that it had a “dominant operation” in the country.
Since entering the market in 2001, MTN has built up a subscriber base of more than 60m. The move into the country helped propel the group beyond its domestic market in South Africa to become one of the world’s top emerging market operators.”