March 8, 2016

Why FG accepted N50bn down payment from MTN —AGF

Why FG  accepted N50bn down payment from MTN —AGF

Phuthuma Nhleko New MTN boss

As Senate summons him to appear March 10

By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor

ABUJA— The Federal Government, yesterday, cleared the air on why it accepted N50 billion down payment of the N780 billion fine the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, slammed on MTN.

The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, told our correspondent that the money was accepted from MTN as a demonstration of good faith and willingness to enter into discussion with the government on the payment of the fine imposed on the firm.

The minister, who confirmed that the telecoms company had withdrawn the case it instituted against the Federal Government, further affirmed that the two sides were ready for dialogue.

Malami said that unknown to many, the government had insisted that the company paid a reasonable part of the fine before it could open discussion with it.

“It was after we had confirmed that the company had deposited the N50 billion in a Federal Government recovery account that we granted them audience over the matter. I can also confirm that the case the company instituted against us has been withdrawn.

“The meaning of what has been done is that we have agreed to grant them audience.  The matter is being considered and whatever is to be done will be made known to Nigerians and will be done in the overall interest of the country and nothing more,” Malami said.

The minister spoke just as the Senate summoned him to explain the decision to allow MTN to pay what it considered ‘a paltry sum’ of the huge fine slammed on it into a Federal Government recovery account, thereby sidelining the NCC.

But Malami made it clear that there was no underhand deal in relation to the ongoing discussion between the Federal Government and MTN.

The minister said whatever was to be done would be guided by public policy and public interest.