‘Buhari to decide MTN’s fate over N1,04trl fine’
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari may eventually be the one to decide the fate of MTN Nigeria over the N1.04 trillion ($5.2 billion) fine slammed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for violating regulatory orders.
Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who spoke to Technology Times, an online technology news platform, said that final decision on the N1.04 trillion fine will be taken by President Buhari at the appropriate time “in public interest.”
Speaking on the sidelines of the Alliance 4 Affordable Internet Nigeria Coalition conference in Lagos, Shittu reiterated government’s determination to ensure that final decision taken on the fines will be in the public interest.
“The issue is now before Mr. President. He will take the necessary decision at the appropriate time. I think Nigerians will expect that Mr. President would do the best to ensure that the public interest is guaranteed,” the minister said.
Responding to questions on alleged conflicting signals on government’s stance on the fine, the minister said: “I don’t think there is any conflicting position on where government stands on the MTN issue.
Recall that there were violations which were established against MTN. The violations were to the tune of five million. That’s a whole lot. There are many countries where subscribers, in the entire country are not up to half of the five million. In the case of Nigeria, we had more than five million violations.
“Both parties, government and MTN, are on the same page that rules have been broken in this instance.”s
Shittu had earlier stated that Nigeria did not want MTN Nigeria to quit the country because of a $5.2 billion fine imposed on it last month.
The fine – if fully enforced – amounts to more than the past two years of profit for MTN in its biggest market, but Shittu said it should not jeopardise the company’s future in Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.
Reuters had quoted Shittu as saying, “Nobody wants MTN to die. Nobody wants MTN to shut down.”
Nigeria accounts for 37 per cent of revenues for MTN, which operates in more than 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Since the announcement of the fine, its shares have lost nearly 25 per cent of their value.
Meanwhile, bdlive.co.za reported yesterday, that apart from facing a $5.2 billion fine in Nigeria, MTN has this year already paid millions of rand in other penalties, according to regulators.
MTN announced in October that it has been fined $5.2 billion by the NCC for failing to disconnect up to five-million unregistered SIM cards in that country.