MTN sues National Communication Commission (NCC) as deadline draws closer
In October, Nigeria’s largest telecommunications provider, MTN, was fined a record fee of $5.2 bn for failing to comply with National Communication Commission (NCC) directives. According to the NCC, the network provider did not act in accordance with a 12-month order to ensure that only SIM cards with valid SIM registration details were active on its network.
After months of negotiation, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), sent in a letter reducing the $5.2bn fine by 25 percent to $3.92bn (780 billion naira) with a deadline of December 31st. However, MTN’s newly appointed Executive Chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko, expressed his dissatisfaction at this development and plans to negotiate with the Nigerian government before responding.
Several moves have been made by both individuals and the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) on the MTN fine saga to sue the Nigerian Communications Commission. However, the story took a new twist yesterday when MTN, claiming to be acting on legal advice, decided to challenge the NCC’s decision to impose a fine on the network by filing a case at the Federal High court.
MTN stated that the manner of the imposition of the fine and the quantum thereof is not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act, a strong point for the company to challenge it.
Following due process, MTN has instructed its lawyers to present the case before the Federal High Court in Lagos in order to seek appropriate relief. On the backdrop of previous judicial decisions in Nigeria, MTN was advised to restrain from further action until the issue has been resolved, fully.
Recently, the NCC directed MTN to disconnect another 18 million lines from its network, over incomplete registration details. MTN is expected to disconnect the affected lines on or before the 31st of January, 2016 and failure to comply with this directive will lead to another N200, 000 per sim fine.
In the best interests of the company, its stakeholders and the Nigerian authorities, MTN plans to further engage the Nigerian authorities in order to reach an “amicable resolution” to the imposed fine.
Despite facing problems in Nigeria, MTN has managed to get its operational licence renewed and extended for an additional five years. Recently, the company paid $196 million to renew its operating licence in Ghana and Ivory Coast.
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