Details leading to the $1.7 billion (N1.02 trillion) fine agreed with MTN is beginning to surface as more Nigerians question why and how a fine that was said to be $5.2 billion ended up being reduced by a whopping 67%.
According to reports from Reuters news wires, “Nigeria agreed to cut a fine, imposed on South Africa’s MTN for failing to disconnect unregistered users, after the firm threatened to pull out of the West African nation, a government official said on Friday.”
In fact an official with knowledge of the transaction was quoted as saying that “The Nigerian government had to listen and yield to the plea of MTN to reduce the fine because the company said paying the fine in full will ground to a halt its operations in Nigeria……The present administration does not want to ground the operations of any investor in Nigeria.”
The deal which also involved MTN paying in tranches over a period of three years also paves the way for a possible listing by MTN on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Despite this deal, Nigerians are understandable quipped by this decision and curious to know if the decision was achieved fairly and justly.
The House Of Representative is now reported to have rejected the fine and claiming that it is illegal.
“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,”
“We are still continuing with our investigation. We have today sent out letters to the minister of communications and the executive vice chairman of NCC (communications regulator) to appear before the House on Monday,”
“We want to know how they arrived at that decision and if it was done in good faith … But honestly, we are surprised,” Fijabi Akinade, chairman of the House’s committee on communications.
So what next?