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MTN N647bn fine reduction an error, NCC says

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How MTN sliced billions off its Nigerian telecoms fine- A Reuters Report

The burden of the fine slammed on Telecommunications Company, MTN Nigeria by sector regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is not totally reduced yet as the company will still add an extra N133 billion to whatever it’s sourcing to free itself.

The NCC said on Friday, that it arrived at the N647bn reduced figure in error, and that the MTN is supposed to pay N780bn as the fine imposed on it.

NCC explained, that the fine of N1.04tn imposed on MTN was reduced by 25 per cent, and not 35 per cent as initially stated.

The commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, admitted that there was an error in the initial letter it sent to MTN, saying that it was a quarter (25 per cent) of the fine that the Presidency agreed should be cut off due to diplomatic intervention.

Speaking at a post-event interview in Lagos, he said, “When the error was discovered, we had to quickly communicate MTN about the error.”

Ojobo said MTN was not marked out for punishment, noting that the NCC had only applied the “carrot and stick’ approach.

The NCC director said no one expected any of the operators to default on the regulation because in 2011 when the regulation around Subscriber Identity Module card was made, they were all aware and pledged to abide by the rules.

He said, “So it came as a shock to us when after sanctioning all the operators earlier in July, where MTN paid N120m for SIM card infractions, they still went ahead to as far as leaving 5.1 million defective SIMs on their network. That obviously warranted more sanctions.”

Read also: How MTN secured $3.4b fine

Ojobo, who stated that a “breach is a breach” regardless of the amount, said it signified that it was no longer business as usual in Nigeria.

Meanwhile reacting to the new development, the MTN Group Public Affairs Director, Chris Maroleng, said on December 3, 2015 shareholders were informed that MTN had received a formal letter dated December 2, 2015 from the NCC informing the company that, after considering the company’s request, it had taken the decision to reduce the fine imposed on the MTN Nigerian business.

Maroleng said that, from the letter, the fine was reduced from the original N1.04tn to N674bn, which had to be paid by December 31, 2015.

He said in a statement, “Late on December 3, 2015, the day after receipt of the first letter, the company received a further letter from the NCC dated December 3, 2015 (the second letter). The second letter, which was stated to supersede the first letter, informed the company that the fine had actually been reduced by 25 per cent to N780bn and not by 35 per cent to N674bn, as was stated in the first letter. The payment date remained December 31, 2015.

“Neither the first letter nor the second letter set out any details on how the reduction was determined.”

Maroleng said the company was carefully considering the two letters, adding that “the Executive Chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko, will immediately re-engage with the Nigerian authorities before responding formally.”

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