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NCC may reduce MTN’s N1.04tr fine

By Prince Osuagwu & Emeka Aginam

There are indications that the Nigerian Communications Commission may be asked to reduce the N1.04 trillion fine imposed on MTN Nigeria over non compliance in the deactivation of improper registered SIM cards.

This is after the Commission Tuesday, received a letter from the telecommunications company, apologizing for wrong doing and pleading for leniency.

An impeccable source at the NCC told Vanguard on condition of anonymity that the commission was in receipt of MTN’s apology letter but however added that the power to decide what is to be done at the moment was no longer in NCC’s hands.

According to the source, “ I can confirm that the commission has received an official letter from MTN admitting its guilt and pleading for leniency. However, the power to grant the leniency is no longer entirely on NCC’s hands but that of the presidency. But there are also indications that the Federal Government may ask us to reduce the fine to an appreciable level.

“If MTN had complied with several directives by the NCC it wouldn’t have been in this mess but I hope they learn their lessons from this. Nigeria is its biggest market. It was surprising that they didn’t anticipate that if things get wrong here, it could affect their other markets. Now, it is alleged that it has lost more than $2.7b from people migrating from its shares to others since this incident. Its a lesson they should not allow to recur” he added.

Meanwhile, according to a report published by online platform, Bloomberg Business yesterday, the South African lawmakers, are planning to meet with the officials of MTN Group Limited to discuss why the company was fined $5.2 billion by the NCC.

The report said that the law makers also intend to summon the South African industry regulator to determine whether MTN is compliant with local rules, with hearings likely to take place next year.

Bloomberg quoted chairwoman of Parliament’s telecommunications committee Nkhensani Kubayi, to be leading the panel.

NCC also recently approved the renewal and extension of MTN’s license for another five years.

With the new development, MTN’s operating spectrum which was issued along with the Digital Mobile License (DML) in 2001 has now been extended to August 31, 2021. The mobile operator’s spectrum license is expected to expire by 31 August 2016.

The licence extension notification was contained in a letter dated 2 November, 2015, and signed by the acting Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umaru Dambatta.

“MTN will, however, be required to pay the sum of $94,225,152.75 as spectrum fee for the five year extension period,” the letter read.

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