The House of Representatives Friday rejected the offer of the service provider MTN to pay N330bn instead of the N1.04 trillion it was fined by the Federal Government.
The MTN Group had on Friday said it has agreed to pay a reduced fine of 330 billion naira ($1.67 billion) in a settlement with the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC).
In a briefing on the issue Friday, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Communications, Hon. Saheed Fijabi said he wondered why the sudden shift in the position of the NCC offer the issue of MTN fine.
A March 1, 2016 memo from the Nigerian Communications Commissions, and in possession of our correspondent reads: ” The proposal to pay the sum of N300 billion as against the N1.04 trillion (and subsequently reduced to N700 billion by the Federal Government of Nigeria “FGN”) is not supported by any verifiable justification.
“When considered vis–a – vis the quantum of fine, the present sum is a far cry and there is no verifiable basis for arriving at the new figure.”
The lawmaker said the offer of $1.7billion (or N330 billion) by MTN, instead of the total fine of $3.9 billion (N1.04 trillion fine by NCC for violation of SIM card registration laws was unacceptable.
According to him, the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, has been summoned by the committee to explain the new development on Monday.
The committee chair noted that it was wrong to accept a reduction while the House was investigating the ongoing negotiations between the Federal Government and MTN on the fine.
He said: “It came to us as a surprise to hear that MTN is paying N300bn. How can they be paying that amount when the minister told us that everything was stalled pending the outcome of our investigation?
“As a House, we have opposed the reduction of the fine because there is no provision in the NCC’s Act that the fine can be reduced. In fact, section 21 of the Act stipulates that even the CEO of a defaulting firm can be made to pay additional fine of over N200, 000 on each of the lines.”
The lawmaker said ordinarily, MTN’s total fine “should be doubled to about N3 trillion and not even the N1.4 trillion they were asked to pay.”
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