•First letter was in error, says NCC

By Prince Osuagwu

Telecommunications operator, MTN yesterday accused the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC of not being clear with information on its decision to reduce the N1.04 trillion fine earlier imposed on the operator for allegedly not being able to disconnect about 5.1 million improperly registered subscribers in its network in August and September 2015.

President Muhammadu Buhari attending to some files in his office as he resumed duties at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida
President Muhammadu Buhari attending to some files in his office 

The operators said that within two days it has received two separate letters with conflicting information on the regulator’s decision to review the fine downwards.

According to MTN, while the first letter dated December 2, 2015 communicated that the regulator had reduced the fine to N674 billion from the original N1,040,000,000,000 (One Trillion, Forty Billion Naira ), representing a 35 percent reduction, the second letter dated December 3, 2015 conveyed that the regulator only reduced the fine to 780 Billion Naira, representing 25 percent reduction.

MTN said both letters surprisingly stated that the fines must be paid on or before December 31, 2015 and most unfortunately, failed to set out any details on how the reduction was determined.

It however promised to review the two letters with the ultimate aim of giving adequate official response.

Reacting to the allegation, the Director Public Affairs of the NCC, Mr Tony Ojobo, explained that there was a mistake in figure of the first letter which immediately prompted the second one.

According to him, the actual decision is that the Commission, has after due considerations of MTN’s consistent pleas and admission of guilt, among other factors, decided to reduce the fine by 25 percent.

He said that the second letter to MTN was clear that the first was null and void with the receipt of the second one and so should not attract any ambiguity.

MTN while addressing its shareholders on the developments said: “We were informed that MTN had received a formal letter dated 2 December 2015 from the NCC (the First Letter) informing the Company that, after considering the Company’s request, it had taken the decision to reduce the fine imposed on the MTN Nigerian business from the original N1,040,000,000,000 (One Trillion, Forty Billion Naira) (the Original Fine) to 674 Billion Naira, which had to be paid by 31 December 2015. The fine relates to the late disconnection of 5.1 million MTN Nigerian subscribers in August and September 2015. This was a reduction of 35% of the Original Fine.

“Late on 3 December 2015, the day after receipt of the First Letter, the Company received a further letter from the NCC dated 3 December 2015 (the Second Letter). The Second Letter, which was stated to supersede the First Letter, informed the Company that the fine had actually been reduced by 25% to 780 Billion Naira and not by 35% to 674 Billion Naira, as was stated in the First Letter. The payment date remained 31 December 2015.

“Neither the First Letter nor the Second Letter sets out any details on how the reduction was determined.

The Company is carefully considering both the First Letter and the Second Letter, and the Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko will immediately and urgently re-engage with the Nigerian Authorities before responding formally, as it is essential for the Company to follow due process to ensure the best outcome for the Company, its stakeholders and the Nigerian Authorities, and accordingly all factors having a bearing on the situation will be thoroughly and carefully considered before the Company arrives at a final decision”.

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