Why FG Reduced MTN Fine – Minister

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Why FG Reduced MTN Fine – Minister

The Federal Government has explained

that the reason it reduced the

$5.2billion fine slammed on MTN

Nigeria was to encourage foreign

investments in the country.

The Minister of Communications,

Adebayo Shittu, made the disclosure on

Sunday in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital

at an award ceremony in honour of

Lekan Balogun, the Otun Olubadan of

Ibadanland.

According to the minister, the Federal

Executive Council, FEC, took cognizance

of the negative impact the burden of

paying the record fine would have had

on the nation, its people and the

economy at arriving at the decision to

reduce the penalty.

The Nigerian Communications

Commission, NCC, last October

slammed the fine on the

telecommunications giant for violating

the directive of the regulatory body in

Nigeria.

MTN Nigeria was accused of disobeying

the NCC’s directive to all telecoms

service providers in the country to

register subscribers and disconnect

erring subscribers.

After repeated warnings to comply

with its directive was ignored, at the

expiration of the deadline the

regulatory body gave to all telecoms

service providers, MTN Nigeria was

handed a $1,000 fine for each of the

5.2 million unregistered subscribers on

its network, which it failed to

disconnect, totaling $5.2 billion (N1.04

trillion at the time).

Mr. Shittu said there was pressure on

the FEC from different quarters, which

later agreed to reduce the fine imposed

on MTN to N330 billion to be paid

within a period of three years.

“As far as we are concerned, the MTN

issue is a closed matter.

“Nigeria as a country must move on.

We must not do anything to drive away

foreign investors. Foreign investments

are potent means of bringing about

development and wealth creation”, he

said.

The minister said that people must not

forget that there were less than

500,000 telephone lines before the

telecom operators came on board.

According to him, “Nigeria now has

more than 152 million lines and MTN is

the dominant operator in the field. It

controls almost 50 per cent of the lines.

“Though, MTN violated the law and

we had to penalise it. We must put a

halt to the limitless crisis so that we

don’t discourage foreign investors.

“That is what the Federal Executive

Council has done to ensure we move

ahead.

“We know for instance, that MTN

operates in 22 countries.

“What it realises in Nigeria alone is

more than what it realises in the other

21 countries put together”, he added.

Mr. Shittu also advised the telecoms

operators against taking Nigeria and

their customers for granted, warning

that all infractions would be

appropriately sanctioned.

“The operators owe a duty to

Nigerians to continue to improve on

their services. Nigerians have been

paying through thick and thin to

patronize them.

“To whom much is given, much is

expected”, he said.

(NAN)

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