Africa's telecommunications giant, MTN, is set for a legal showdown with the Nigerian Communications Commission over the fine slammed on the firm which was recently reduced to N780bn.
The mobile giant, on Thursday, December 17, said it will not pay the N780 billion fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over subscriber identity module (SIM) card fraud.
The company said It will rather challenge the authority of the regulator in court. MTN said it had sought legal advice and would challenge the fine and the manner of its imposition which it argued went beyond the constitutional powers of the regulator. The deadline for the payment was set for December 31.
But the NCC said it was yet to receive MTN’s court papers. Its Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, wondered why the volte face after MTN had admitted committing the crime and pleading for leniency in a letter to the commission.
A statement issued by MTN Group Corporate Affairs reads: “Further to the SENS announcement issued by the company on 4 December 2015, shareholders are advised that all factors having a bearing on the matter have been thoroughly and carefully considered, including a review of the circumstances leading to the fine and the subsequent letters received from the NCC.
“MTN Nigeria acting on legal advice has resolved that the manner of the imposition of the fine and the quantum thereof is not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act and therefore there are valid grounds upon which to challenge the fine.
“Accordingly MTN has followed due process and has instructed its lawyers to proceed with an action in the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking the appropriate reliefs.
“MTN is advised that in the current circumstances in line with the lis pendens rule (pending legal action) the parties are enjoined to restrain from taking further action until the matter is finally determined. This is consistent with previous judicial decisions in Nigeria.
“Notwithstanding this action, the company will continue to engage with the Nigerian authorities to try and ensure an amicable resolution in the best interests of the company, its stakeholders and the Nigerian authorities.”
NCC imposed a fine of N1,4trillion on MTN for “criminally harbouring” some 5.2million pre-registered SIMs on its network.
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