MTN to challenge huge Nigerian fine in Lagos court

mtnSouth African telecoms giant MTN said Thursday it would launch a court challenge against the $3.9 billion fine that Nigeria has ordered it to pay by December 31 for failing to disconnect unregistered users.

Nigerian authorities ordered unregistered SIM cards to be deactivated for security reasons, as the country battles Boko Haram Islamists as well as criminality, especially kidnapping for ransom.

MTN was slapped with the hefty penalty by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) in October after it missed the deadline to disconnect 5.1 million SIM cards.

“MTN Nigeria acting on legal advice has resolved that the manner of the imposition of the fine… is not in accordance with the NCC’s powers,” the company said in statement.

“There are valid grounds upon which to challenge the fine.”

It added that MTN lawyers would take the case to the High Court in Lagos.

The fine was subject to confusion after the NCC cut the initial $5.2 billion fine to $3.4 billion.

But it was then increased to $3.9 billion after the NCC admitted making a calculating error.

Johannesburg-based MTN — Africa’s largest telecoms firm — was fined 200,000 naira ($1,000) for each unregistered users.

It said it now expected all parties “to restrain from taking further action until the matter is finally determined”.

“The company will continue to engage with the Nigerian authorities to try and ensure an amicable resolution,” it added.

MTN shares gained 6.3 percent to close at 138.20 rand in Johannesburg.

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  • emmanuel kalu

    whoa, what blatant disregards for the Nigeria law. good luck to them, because they would just succeed in increasing the fine by losing at court. They were informed, they knew about the rules, they agreed to it and they want to challenge it. I hope the Nigeria government truly deal with this company.

  • Jide Peter

    It is hoped that full stories of MTN activities in Nigeria will be told in court. MTN got started by arranging and making sure NITEL did ALL the work while MTN and others collected ALL the money. MTN should produce Interconnection Agreement it signed with Telkom SA in South Africa and the one it signed with NITEL in Nigeria and the massive fraud committed against NITEL will be very obvious. MTN has no License for Optic fiber operation in Nigeria because it did not pay for it. It has only and approval. All GSM service operators are expected to Operate under a license. MTN should also be made to tell Nigerians why there is no home and roaming on GSM in Nigeria when South Africans have. MTN should also be made to tell Nigerians why their GSM in Nigeria has no Area Codes. MTN should also tell Nigerians clearly how many Mobile switching Centers (MSC) are in Nigeria and their Area Codes. MTN deceive Nigerians with frivolous investments not in accordance with ITU protocols

  • New Nigerian

    …MTN made noise, sponsored international analysts and multitudes of sponsored op-eds in international media to pressure Nigeria, that the fine would result in loss of foreign direct investment…bblah blah blah…finally President Buhari weighed in and got their fine reduced by 33%. And what did MTN do, even that they do not want to pay and now they go to court to contest it – so much for special considerations from the presidency. Summarily MTN kick sand on the face of the New Minister of Communications who practically begged the President to help MTN, the same way they rubbished NCC by blatantly allowing it’s network to be used by terrorists (hiding behind 5.2m non registered subscribers that MTN allows on it’s network, in th efirst place). MTN’s lack of integrity continues and it is about to find out that “Khakhi no be leather”.

    NCC should sunset the 33% “considerations” it gave by December 31st, 2015, if MTN refuse to pay the $3.9b. NCC should write to MTN that effective January 1, 2016 the full amount of $5.2billion is payable. The executive should then stay out of it and then let us see any court that would hamstring NCC to do it’s constitutional duty!

    • emmanuel kalu

      This is exactly the reason the president should have stayed out of it completely. NCC did its job, every Nigerian should be praising them and supporting them. I believe MTN would lose badly and they know it. what they are trying to do is delay the payment, while they find ways to loot more money from Nigeria. just watch as people charges would begin to look crazy and expensive. They are buying time and our government should not allow this mess.