Senate Not Happy With Presidency over MTN N1.04trn Fine Reduction to N330bn, Summons . . .
The Nigerian Senate has expressed its shock and anger at the decision of the executive arm of the federal government to reduce a fine imposed on telecommunication giants, MTN Nigeria, from N1.04 trillion to N330 billion.
The senate described the reduction of the fine as a deliberate short-changing of the country and has therefore summoned the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the minister of Communications, and the accountant-general of the federation, to explain their roles in the affair.
MTN Nigeria was fined N1.04trn by the industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in October 2015, for alleged operational misconducts. The fine was initially reduced to N780bn amidst court action challenging the imposition of the fine. An out-of-court settlement resulted in the further reduction of the fine.
Vanguard reports that the House of Representatives has also expressed its dissatisfaction with the fine reduction, lamenting that the decision was made without allowing the house committee on communications to conclude its investigations on the case.
Meanwhile, communications minister, Mr Adebayo Shittu, at the venue of an Achiever’s Award ceremony in honour of Senator Lekan Balogun, the Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, over the weekend, said the fine was reduced in light of the need to give foreign investors the necessary impetus to continue investing in the country.
He added that “as far as we are concerned, the MTN issue is a closed matter. The Federal Executive Council has remitted a substantial part of the penalty to them. Nigeria as a country must move on.”
The minister also noted that before MTN and other telecoms operators began operations in Nigeria, the country had less than 500,000 telephone lines which has now moved up to more than 152 million lines, with MTN as the dominant operator in the field.
In the same vein, the AGF and minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, has said: “The MTN matter has been concluded at the executive level and a position taken by the Federal Executive Council and communicated to the company.
“In fact, the NCC has already written to MTN conveying the position of Nigeria on the fine to MTN and that is the true position as far as that matter is concerned.’’