Nigeria's Communications Minister, Adebayo Shittu, this week commented on the fine imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on MTN Nigeria. Reiterating a remark he made in November last year, saying the government does not want the mobile operator to "die", but it must obey the country's laws.
While addressing journalists this week, Shittu said one of the conditions for government's consideration of MTN's out-of-court request will be the telco's payment of a portion of the fine as a "show of good faith" in order to be taken seriously and would prompt authorities to resume re-negotiation with the operator.
"When MTN came, we understood their pleas. However, we added that if you cannot meet up with the fine, you have to add your account details to show that upon paying, your company will collapse. They are yet to respond on that. The next thing was for me to get a call they are going to court. And now, they are coming back for out of court settlement. We don't want MTN to die; rather, we want them to obey the law," Shittu said.
The matter has even drawn interest from lawmakers in Nigeria as the committee preceding over the fine has already initiated dialogue between the NCC and MTN with the hopes that the issue will be resolved amicably, disclosed by Senator Gilbert Nnaji, Chairman of Senate Committee on Communication.
"We have waded into the impasse between NCC and MTN Nigeria, we have started dialogue but it is still an in-house discussion, it will not be made known to the media until we reach a concrete agreement between NCC, MTN and the Senate Committee on Communication. The matter has become very embarrassing, but with dialogue, the matter will be resolved. We don't want to hear that we are looking for foreign investors in the country and in the other way round, we are chasing them away, we can't allow that to happen," Nnaji told journalists.
MTN also confirmed it has been served with court summons in relation to the suit filed by Etisalat Nigeria over its acquisition of Visafone and plans to deploy data services through the CDMA company's spectrum.