Only when we thought that MTN has withdrawn its suit against the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and paid N50 billion towards an amicable resolution of the fine imposed on them, NCC has debunked the telecom giant's claim.
Contrary to reports that MTN announced on Wednesday that it was dropping its lawsuit against the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and was making in 'good faith' a payment of N50 billion to enable the two sides reach an amicable solution on the matter, the commission on Thursday, distanced itself from claims by the telecoms giant.
In our earlier report, MTN Nigeria’s Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, was quoted as saying, "This is a most encouraging development. It demonstrates a willingness and sincerity by both parties to work together towards a positive outcome.
"MTN paid N50 billion to the federal government as a gesture of good faith and commitment to continued efforts towards an amicable resolution," according to the telecoms company."
Debunking the viral report, Tony Ojobo, NCC's director of communication, told Premium Times exclusively on Thursday that the commission was neither aware of MTN’s decision to withdraw its court case, nor pay $250 million (about N50 billion) to the Nigerian government.
"We (NCC) are not privy to it (agreement to withdraw a case from court and pay $250 million by MTN). We do not have anything to do with it. We do not have any evidence of payment of any money to the Nigerian government. There is no invoice to that effect. We have also not gotten any official information or confirmation that they have withdrawn their case in court.
"That information is not from us (NCC). It is MTN that released it from South Africa. We have not gotten into any discussion on the modalities of payment of the fine. Whatever MTN is doing does not affect the fact that a regulatory fine was imposed and payment is expected," he said.
He however assured that the NCC management would meet later Thursday to review the report and take a decision that would be communicated to the public through an official statement.
"We have not even met to take a decision like that. There was no discussion whatsoever with NCC on the matter. MTN has not even met with the committee that was set to discuss these issues.
"On what basis was the agreement made? We do not know the basis on which they arrived at the $250 million they claim to have paid. For now, no official position on this. We are just hearing it in the news like every other person," Mr Ojobo explained.
The NCC had in October 2015 sanctioned MTN for failing to disconnect 5.1 million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline in compliance with its regulatory directive to telecom operators in the country.
The penalty was based on N200,000 fine imposed for every unregistered SIM card in use on any telecom operator’s network. Although the fine was subsequently reduced by 25 per cent to N780 billion, MTN Nigeria failed to pay the penalty.