By Prince Osuagwu (Hi-Tech Editor)
Information and Communications Technology, ICT industry stakeholders, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators in Nigeria, ALTON, on Wednesday moved for amicable resolution of the dispute between telecom company, MTN Nigeria and the duo of Central Bank of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF.
The financial regulator had ordered MTN to refund $8.1 billion it allegedly repatriated from the country, through irregular certificates of capital importation, while the AGF had also alleged that MTN did not pay taxes on foreign payments and imports of approximately $2.0 billion and subsequently requested the telco to make the payments within 14 working days.
However, MTN had categorically denied all allegations, saying it has always complied with and carried out all its taxes and financial obligations to the Nigerian government, dutifully.
In defence, the telecommunications company had gone to court, seeking injunctive relief restraining the CBN and the AGF from taking further action in respect of their orders, saying the action was to protect its assets and shareholder rights within the confines of the law.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), was yesterday quoted by Bloomberg as saying that it hopes for an amicable resolution between the Central Bank of Nigeria and MTN.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Prof Umar Danbatta was said to have made the assertion at the ongoing ITU Telecom World 2018 conference holding in Durban, South Africa
According to Bloomberg, the EVC said: “Nigeria remains an attractive country for investors who crave for adequate Return on Investments (RoIs).
“The Nigerian Communications Commission is doing what it can to facilitate an amicable resolution of MTN’s standoff with the tax and finance regulators.
“I am assuring you that we will soon have the matters settled amicably. We are talking and engaging with relevant authorities to have the matters settled”
Back home, the Chairman of ALTON, Engr Gbenga Adebayo, told Vanguard that the EVC’s statement is in order even though the commission ought to have taken a proactive step before MTN went to court.
He urged the commission to step into the matter with same vitality that it did during the time some banks wanted to take over Etisalat now (9Mobile).
According to Adebayo, “the industry does not need this kind of embarrassing scenarios. It does not give the country positive image that can give foreign investors confidence to come; and we need a lot of them if we hope to use technology to achieve economic transformation
“The NCC should have intervened before now but if the EVC is promising to intervene in the matter, it is a step in the right direction. Nigeria cannot afford to lose face in the international community for issues that can be perceived as double standard. Litigations in the telecom sector does not give impression of a stable industry and investors always loathe that. Seeking out of court settlement would be the best for everybody and the Nigerian economy too”he added.