NCC not party to MTN’s fine reduction, says chief executive



• N50b not lodged in commission’s account
• Reps summon AGF, presidential aide over deal

From the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) came a startling revelation yesterday that it was not a party to the decision to slash the N1.4 trillion imposed on telecoms firm, MTN to N300 billion.

It also said the reported N50 billion part payment by MTN was not lodged into its account, just as it was also learnt yesterday that the Ministry of Communications was equally not carried along in the out-court-settlement meeting between the firm and the Federal Government where the decision was reportedly taken.

NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman (EVC)/Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Umar Garba Dambatta, made the agency’s stance known yesterday while addressing members of the House Committee on Telecommunications on the deal in Abuja.

Piqued by the revelation, the panel has, therefore, summoned the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Abba Kyari and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami to clarify their roles in the exercise.

The two top government officials are to appear before the committee next week to explain ‘why they sidelined both the ministry and the NCC commission to strike an out-of-court settlement with MTN.’

The committee chairman, Saheed Akinade Fijabi said: “Both the Chief of Staff to the President and the Attorney General and Justice Minister are to come and make clarification for not allowing the NCC play the lead role in the negotiations with MTN. We are not asking anybody to carry us along, but we want to know what happened. We have the power of oversight over the NCC because they report back to our committee and so whatever they are doing, we must be party to it”.

Dambatta had also disclosed that under the renegotiated term, MTN expressed willingness to first pay N150 billion basis and then pay the balance by way of providing “complementary services” to Nigerians subscribers.

This, he stressed was completely unacceptable adding: “What we are saying is that the whole fine must be paid. We are also saying that we can agree on the mode of payment. This is our input on the issue.”

It would be recalled that the regulator imposed the N1.4 trillion fine on MTN over sundry violations, including SIM registration requirements.

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