Members of the House of Representatives have stated that the down-payment of N50 billion by MTN towards an out-of-court settlement of its N1.04 trillion fine is inadequate.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) slapped the N1.04 trillion fine on MTN last October, but later reduced it to N780 billion and gave the network provider till December 31, 2015 to pay up after the company had pleaded for leniency.
But before the deadline, MTN sued the federal government challenging the power of the federal government and NCC to impose the fine.
This is coming as the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta told the lawmakers that the commission was not in custody of the N50 billion payment and was unaware of the account the money was paid into by the MTN.
A member of the House, Hon. Sajeed Fijabi, at a meeting with the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu and officials of NCC, said any negotiation on the fine must be spearheaded by the NCC and not the AGF, adding that there should be no room for a reduction of the fine, as it would set a bad precedent.
“There is nowhere in the law that says there is room for reduction. If you are reducing this now, what will happen to Glo and others? I see MTN going to court every time as a way to circumvent the law. In the US, British Petroleum paid the full fine for the oil spill (in the Gulf of Mexico).
“Somebody is not allowing you to handle this matter the way you should. After you had imposed the fine, somebody is negotiating and reducing it. You imposed the fine, you should take the lead in negotiations, but now you are being sidelined.
“You imposed the N1.04 trillion fine, and we at the National Assembly have already projected that amount as part of federal government’s revenue,” Fijabi added.
The Telecommunication giant was said to have paid N50 billion to the federal government after NCC had imposed a fine of N1.04 trillion on it over the inability to de-activate unregistered SIM cards as at the expiration of the deadline.