The Federal Government expects ₦330 billion, representing final balance of MTN Nigeria fine to be paid this Friday, the telecoms regulator says.
Technology Times had exclusively reported the unprecedented ₦1.04 trillion imposed on MTN Nigeria in October 2015, when the nation’s largest mobile phone company flouted Nigeria’s SIM registration rules.
Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), dropped the hint of the expected payment last week while speaking at a valedictory service in Abuja to honour Dr Adebayo Shittu, the outgoing Minister of Communications.
Danbatta says that part of the deal conditions resulted in the recent listing of MTN Nigeria on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, which he says empowered Nigerians “to control, manage and own telecommunications companies in Nigeria by owning shares in MTN Nigeria.” Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)
The NCC chief explains that the MTN fine was later cut down from ₦1.04 trillion to ₦330 billion in a deal between the Federal Government and owners of MTN Nigeria, South Africa’s MTN Group.
Danbatta says that part of the deal conditions resulted in the recent listing of MTN Nigeria on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, which he says empowered Nigerians “to control, manage and own telecommunications companies in Nigeria by owning shares in MTN Nigeria.”
Under the staggered payment mutual accord reached between FG and MTN, the mobile phone company has paid ₦275 billion out of the fine, leaving the ₦55 billion balance due by May 31, 2019, Danbatta says.
“After six months of negotiation and re-negotiation over the fine which led to the reduction to ₦330 billion, it was agreed that MTN would pay a balance of ₦280 billion in six tranches in addition to the “goodwill” payment of ₦50 billion earlier made by telephony firm to the government”, the telecoms regulatory chief says.
According to Danbatta, MTN began the payment with ₦30 billion into NCC’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 30 days from the date of the June 10 2016 agreement date.
Subsequently, MTN paid ₦30 billion on March 31, 2017; ₦55 billion on March 31, 2018; ₦55 billion on December 31, 2018 and ₦55 billion on March 31, leaving the balance and final tranche of the ₦55 billion balance to be paid on or before May 31, 2019.
The telecoms regulator on October 20, 2015, imposed a fine of ₦1.04 trillion on MTN Nigeria for infraction of the provision of the NCC Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011; for failure to disconnect 5.2 million improperly-registered Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) lines within the prescribed deadline, “because these lines had economic activities on them without proper registration”, the NCC says.
“In agreement reached by the parties involved in a way to avoid decision likely to cripple business interest of the operators the Commission regulates, it was also agreed that MTN shall apologise to Nigerians, subscribe to the compulsory observance of Code of Corporate Governance for Telecoms Industry; as well as undertake immediate steps to ensure its listing on the NSE”, according to the regulator.
Danbatta says that through the MTN’s listing on the NSE, his agency has translated into action one of its key functions, “which is to promote local investment and ownership in the telecoms sector.”
With the buying and owning of MTN shares available in the capital market, Danbatta says “Nigerians will be financially-empowered and socially-transformed.”