By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Federal Government has revealed that telecoms firm, MTN Nigeria, has so far paid N80 billion of the N330 billion fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to deactivate some unregistered SIM cards on its network.
Making this disclosure was the Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, who said the company made the N80 billion payment after the N50 billion paid initially paid.
Mr Shittu noted that MTN Nigeria promised to complete the payment within the next two years.
“For the first year, they paid N80 billion, after paying the initial N50 billion, and they will have to pay for three years until they will complete the N330 billion,” the Minister said.
He explained that the fine was for failing to disconnect about 5.2 million lines on its network, which attracted N200,000 for each.
“It was inconceivable, so when the thing was added 200,000 times 5.2 million lines, it came to a trillion plus.
“When it happened, the MTN did four things; one they accepted that they were in default, two, they apologised for that and three they committed themselves never to allow such a thing to happen and number four, they asked for remission,” Mr Shittu said.
Justifying reason for reducing the fine, the Minister said, “We also knew that we invited the international community to come and invest and anything that will be done which will shake the confidence of international investors in Nigerian economy, we must avoid it.
“Consequently, we must not throw away the baby with the bath water, if they had packed up and left, let us assume all their staff are not more than 5,000, it means all of those 5,000 will lose their jobs.
“Also those who made investment, who bought shares will lose their shares and the Nigeria banking sector would go into crisis.”
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