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$3.9bn Fine: ‘FG’ll Decide On MTN’s Fate After Court Case’

The federal government has disclosed that it will wait for the outcome of a legal action by South African telecom firm, MTN, before deciding on whether to enforce the $3.9 billion fine.

Mr Victor Oluwadamilare, the spokesman to the minister of communication, Mr Adebayo Shittu, stated this yesterday while reacting to the December 31, 2015 deadline.

“The federal government, NCC (regulator) or any government agent will not do anything at the expiration of the December 31 deadline. Now that they (MTN) have gone to court, we will await the outcome of the case. This is a government that believes in the rule of law.”

But Oluwadamilare’s stance was contrary to the claim of a source in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) who had earlier insisted that “appropriate action” would be taken against MTN if it failed to pay the fine by the December 31 deadline for failing to disconnect users with unregistered SIM cards.

The federal government had, through the NCC, introduced the measure to check widespread use of unregistered SIM cards for criminal activities, including by the Boko Haram sect.

The NCC had imposed a $5.2 billion fine on MTN in October but after weeks of negotiations, it reduced it by 25 per cent in December and set a deadline for December 31, Reuters reported.

But the telecom firm is still not prepared to pay the reduced fine as it later hired seven prominent senior advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and filed a suit before the federal high court in Lagos, challenging NCC’s power to impose the fine. The firm wants the court to set aside the fine.

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