The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed that one of the leading telecoms firms, MTN, has paid N165 billion out of the N330 billion fine imposed on it due to its inability to disconnect improperly registered SIM cards.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, stated this on Monday when MTN Group, led by its chairman in Nigeria, Mr Pascal Dozie, visited the commission office in Abuja.
The NCC had in October 2015, imposed a fine of N1.04 trillion on MTN Nigeria for not complying with government’s rule on the deactivation of unregistered SIM cards.
The fine was also imposed on MTN for not disconnecting about 5.1 million improperly registered lines in its network within the stipulated deadline.
But after several appeals and negotiations including diplomatic intervention by the South African government, the fine was reduced to N330 billion.
MTN had initially made a commitment payment of N50billion to the government while the remaining balance of N280 billion was to be paid in six tranches in accordance with the agreements between the NCC and MTN.
Danbatta said, “I am happy to inform you that our agreement with MTN on how and when to pay the fine has been adhered to.
“Just last month, March, we received a cheque of N55billion from MTN as part of the fine payment plan. This brought the total fine paid by MTN Nigeria to N165billion, that is about half of the fine.
“It is a whopping sum of money and they have not defaulted and these payments they are making is consistent with the terms of agreement we reached with them.”
According to the NCC boss, the payment on instalment basis was in line with the terms of agreement reached between MTN and the regulatory body.
Danbatta further stated that the fine is aimed at ensuring that it is not business as usual but to ensure that the rules of engagement are respected.
“It is also to ensure that the rules governing the telecom sector of the economy is adhered to,” he added.
Danbatta also said that the commission would continue to cooperate with the MTN because of its major contributions to the economic and digital growth of the nation’s economy.
Dozie had earlier said that Nigeria was one of the largest contributors to its market, saying that the visit of the MTN Group was to cement the relationship between MTN and NCC.
He appealed to the NCC to auction more spectrums to further open up the ICT space and improve the country’s economy.