It’s no longer news that MTN Nigeria and the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) have been embroiled in a tussle over the fine the latter imposed on the former for failing to unsubscribe about 5.2 million unregistered SIM cards from its network.
In a move that finally seemed like the end of this long tussle, MTN withdrew the suit from court and paid ₦50 billion. In response, the Nigerian authorities withdrew the case at the federal high court and that was supposed to be the beginning of a new air to breathe for the telecommunication company.
However, Nigeria’s House of Representatives might hike the fine slapped on MTN Nigeria in a bizarre turn of events. The motion was brought before the House by Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, who insisted on the need to investigate the payment made by MTN on the fine levied by the NCC.
The lawmaker pointed out that the Nigerian Communications Commission regulations prescribed that any licensee who failed to capture, register, deregister or transmit the details of any individual or corporate subscribers to the central database as specified is liable to a penalty of ₦200,000 (about $1,000) for each subscriber medium.
According to him, the cumulative penalty owed by MTN totals $15.8 billion (₦3.12 trillion) and demanded that it be paid in full without any unlawful pardon.
“MTN ought to have been fined under both Section 19 and Section 20 respectively with a cumulative penalty of ₦3.12 trillion, and not N1.04 trillion, which is a gross violation of the combined reading of the NCC Act.”
The House of Representatives had earlier questioned why MTN Nigeria had been dealing directly with Nigeria’s attorney general instead of the Nigerian Communications Commission while trying to get the fine reduced. And declared the reduction of the fine following MTN Nigeria’s leniency appeal as not in accordance with Nigeria's stipulated laws.