Telecommunications giant, MTN Nigeria, has agreed to pay the Nigerian government $1.7 billion as settlement of the fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.
According to a statement by MTN on Friday, it would pay the $1.7 billion in “full and final settlement” over its failure to disconnect unregistered mobile phone users.
“MTN Nigeria has agreed to pay a total cash amount of Naira 330 billion over three years.”
It would be recalled that the telecoms operator was fined $3.9 billion last year and has since been in negotiations with the government over the payout.
Meanwhile, very strong indications emerged on Friday that the Nigerian government may have succumbed to the $1.67bn settlement bill after MTN threatened to pull out of the country.
The fine which will be paid over three years is only around a third of the $5.2 billion figure initially demanded by Nigeria last October.
Reuters quotes an unnamed government official as saying that, “The Nigerian government had to listen and yield to the plea of MTN to reduce the fine because the company said paying the fine in full will ground to a halt its operations in Nigeria.
“The present administration does not want to ground the operations of any investor in Nigeria,” he said, in the first government reaction.”
The development came as a surprise to members of the Nigerian parliament which had been investigating the MTN deal.
The House committee chairman on communications, Fijabi Akinade, said, “We are still continuing with our investigation. We have today sent out letters to the minister of communications and the executive vice chairman of NCC (communications regulator) to appear before the House on Monday.
He added, “We want to know how they arrived at that decision and if it was done in good faith … But honestly, we are surprised.”
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