The Nigerian Federal Government has taken MTN Nigeria on a roller coaster ride since it slapped the telecoms giant with a $5.2 billion fine in October 2015. The fine was slashed to $3.9 billion in December, now the government has put talks about the fine on hold indefinitely.
According to Fin24Tech’s Yinka Ibukun, talks were suspended “while the country’s House of Representatives completes an investigation into the size of the penalty and how it was delivered.”
Speaking to Bloomberg News, Victor Oluwadamilare, the Nigerian Communications Commission’s spokesperson, said that the members of the House of Reps “have set up a committee to investigate the MTN saga and they are still on it.”
He added that “The Federal Government, the Nigerian Communications Commission and the Ministry of Communications can do nothing about the MTN case until the committee concludes its thorough investigation. There’s no point dealing with a particular organisation from different fronts. It would be counter-productive.”
Since NCC hit MTN Nigeria with the fine, we’ve seen MTN lose its position as the most valuable telecoms company in Africa to Vodacom. Its stock has fallen by almost one-third due to the crisis. Also, both the CEOs of MTN Nigeria and MTN Group resigned their positions. The group’s executive chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko, was brought in to resolve the situation but things haven’t gone according to plan on that front. FinTech24 reports that he will address shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday.
In December 2015, MTN responded to news of the fine-slash by suing the NCC on the grounds that the fine was “not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act and therefore there [were] valid grounds upon which to challenge the fine. However, MTN withdrew the suit two months later and decided to pay ₦50 billion as a ‘gesture of good faith’. But that was not enough to resolve the matter as Nigerian lawmakers released a statement in March 2016 insisting that MTN Nigeria pays the fine in full without any unlawful pardon.
Whew! What a ride!