Reduction of MTN’s fine was illegal, say Reps



The House of Representatives has described as unlawful the downward review of the N1.04 trillion fine imposed on MTN by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), saying such can only be done through an amendment to the NCC Act.

Consequently, the House has, in a resolution, directed its Committee on Telecommunications to investigate the extent to which MTN’s non-compliance with NCC’s regulations may have led to the death of over 10,000 Nigerians allegedly killed by Boko Haram, as well as whether the company can be liable for criminal proceedings under the nation’s laws.

This was the outcome of a motion brought under matters of urgent national importance by Johnson Agbonayinma, who also argued that the N50 billion reportedly paid by MTN into the Recovery Account is in violation of extant laws. “MTN ought to have been fined under both Section 19 and Section 20 respectively with cumulative penalty of N3.12 trillion, and not N1.04 trillion, which is a gross violation of the combined reading of the NCC Act,” he stated.

In his submission during the debate, House Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila said the House must insist that the Chief Executive Officer of MTN, Mr. Ferdinand Moolman, honours the summon of the Telecommunications Committee. He added that the letter written by Moolman referring the committee to other agencies mediating in the matter is an affront to the Parliament.

Moolman, who shunned an earlier summon by the Telecommunications panel was quoted in a March 15, 2016 letter to have stated that “the appropriate government agencies, specifically the Nigerian Communications Commission, Offices of the Honourable Ministers of Communication and Justice as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria agencies are in a position to furnish your committee with relevant information on this issue.” Gbajabiamila noted that MTN, which is a South African firm, would not dare write such letter to its home country’s parliament.

Also, the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, noted that since the N200,000 fine per unregistered SIM card is fixed, the only way to review it would be through the parliament, urging the committee to investigate who authorised the reduction in the first place.

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