Senate probes N1.04trn MTN fine

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Senate on Thursday summoned the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to explain the rationale behind the unilateral reduction of the fine imposed on the Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN), by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), from =N=1.04 trillion to =N=330 billion.

Other stakeholders summoned by the Senate in respect of the issue include, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbata, Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, CEO, MTN, Mr. Michael Ikpoki, and all parties involved in the negotiations.

The Senate also urged the Federal Government to move the initial part payment of =N=50 billion by the MTN, from the CBN Recovery Account to the CBN/NCC Treasury Single Account.

The Upper Chamber passed these resolutions following a motion of urgent public importance, sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Gilbert Nnaji (PDP, Enugu East).

Presenting the motion entitled “reduction of the fine imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission on MTN Communications Nigeria Limited from =N=1.04 trillion to =N=330 billion,” Senator Nnaji recalled that the NCC, in 2015, imposed a fine of =N=1.04 trillion on the telecoms operator, for operational misconduct.

Senator Nnaji noted that the sanction which originally attracted =N=1.04 trillion was initially reduced to =N=780 billion and finally to =N=330 billion without recourse to due process. The lawmaker also said that the unilateral reduction of the fine by the NCC without following any approved process amounted to short-changing Nigerians.

According to him, “the MTN failed to deactivate 5.2 million unregistered subscribers on its network, in accordance with the directive by the regulatory commission.” 

He therefore, prayed the Senate to direct its Committee on Communications to invite all the relevant stakeholders to come and explain their various roles in the purported illicit transaction.

“The senate notes therefore as the representatives of the Nigerian people we are saddened about this development coming at a time when the Nigerian economy needs all the available capital infusion to bolster it.”

The President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, asked the chairman, communications Committee to work on the matter and report back in two weeks. Thereafter, the Senate adjourned to Tuesday, July 12.