By Emeka Aginam & Richard Udofia
Mobile phone operator, MTN, Monday disclosed that it was discussing with the regulatory agency, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC on how best to resolve the N1.04 trillion fine for failing to fully deactivate subscribers with unregistered and incomplete Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards details on their networks within the stipulated time.
Based on regulations, there will be sanctions as stipulated by SIM Card Registration Code, Section 19 to 21, where it was stated that per SIM found defective on the network, erring operator will be made to pay N200, 000, which was set out on May 1, 2010.
Already, the Corporate Services Executive, of MTN , Akinwale Goodluck in a statement said that, “MTN confirmed that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has imposed a N1.4 trillion fine ($5.2bn) on MTN Nigeria.
“ The fine relates to the timing of the disconnection of the 5.1 million MTNN subscribers that were disconnected in August & September 2015 and is based on a N200,000 fine for each improperly registered subscriber.
MTN Nigeria is currently engaging with the NCC to resolve the matter”, Goodluck said.
Also reacting, MTN Group, in a statement from South Africa, yesterday said MTN Nigeria is currently in discussions with the NCC to resolve the matter in recognition of the circumstances that prevailed with regard to these subscribers.
“The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) imposes fine on MTN Nigeria: Shareholders are advised that the NCC has imposed a fine equivalent to $5.2 billion on MTN Nigeria.
This fine relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million MTN Nigeria subscribers who were disconnected in August and September 2015 and is based on a fine of N200, 000 for each unregistered subscriber.
“MTN Nigeria is currently in discussions with the NCC to resolve the matter in recognition of the circumstances that prevailed with regard to these subscribers. We will continue to update shareholders in this regard.”, the statement added.
Industry watchers have reasoned that failure to deactivate the defective SIMs from the networks may aid the activities of kidnappers, insurgents; miscreants and other criminals.
Accordingly, NCC’s decision was taken based on security advice from the State Security Service (SSS) and the failure to comply with the directive.
As at press time, every attempt to contact Public Affairs officials of the NCC for comment failed.
It would be recalled that NCC had earlier on September asked operators to pay N120.4m in fines for failing to fully comply with the directive of the commission to deactivate pre-registered and defective SIM cards.
While MTN, which has over 64 million subscribers on its network, was asked to pay N102.2 million; Globacom was slammed with N7.4 million; Etisalat, N7 million; and Airtel, N3.8 million.