You will remember that following the $3.9 billion fine imposed on the telecoms giant by the NCC, MTN Nigeria has resorted to challenging the penalty judicially.
It would seem however that the NCC — and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria — is having none of that. Fin24 reports that Nigeria’s communications ministry has reaffirmed the requirement of a 31st December deadline for payment of the fine. According to Victor Oluwadamilare, spokesperson for Communications Minister, Adebayo Shittu:
MTN has the right to seek the court’s interpretation if it feels unsatisfied with the action of the regulator, but nothing would stop the government action on the fine. Nigeria won’t consider an extension to the deadline
The NCC imposed the fine on MTN as penalty for failing to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered subscribers. Shortly after the fine was announced, the then MTN Group CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa stepped down “in the interest of the company and shareholders”. He was promptly replaced by Phutuma Nhleko. Soon top executives in MTN Nigeria followed suit, but not before the NCC extended the November 16 deadline for payment of the fine. Then news broke that the NCC had reduced the original $5.2 billion fine by 35%; it later turned out to be a 25% reduction.
Amidst the reductions and deadline extensions, MTN remains convinced that the fine is not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act. But this claim is apparently falling on the deaf ears of the Nigerian government.
It is unclear what will follow if MTN fails to pay the fine by the December 31 deadline. The Vanguard hints at the possibility of an additional fine. That remains to be seen.