South Africa's MTN Group has proposed a 1.51 billion dollars or N300 billion payments to settle a 3.9 billion dollars fine in Nigeria, a document released shows. MTN was handed the penalty in October last year for missing the deadline to disconnect users with unregistered SIM cards.
MTN have alleged to have paid N50bn fine. The Senate however, has demanded to know the account MTN paid the N50 billion fine into and which government agency received the money.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Gilbert Nnaji, made the demand at a meeting with MTN, Accountant General of the Federation and other stakeholders in Abuja on Thursday.
He also frowned at the "recovery account" opened for the N50 billion part-payment of the fine.
``If MTN actually paid, why did it disregard payment into NCC’s coffers as statutorily obliged?
``If MTN paid into CBN’s Recovery Account, on whose directive did the network do so and what legal backing does CBN have to lodge the money in a recovery account.‘’
The committee expressed concern over the role played by Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, in the out of court settlement between Federal Government and MTN.
It decried the exclusion of Ministry of Communications and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), from the out of court settlement.
Nnaji contended that the proposal by MTN for reduction of the fine to N300 billion was accepted by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation
Nnaji said the Attorney General agreed to the reduction without recourse to the Ministry of Justice and the NCC.
``As a committee, we find it worrisome that the issue of compliance on the part of MTN can linger till now.
``On the other hand, N50 billion was claimed to have been paid by MTN out of the reduced fine of N780 billion.
``We gathered from the regulator, NCC, that the commission neither received the N50 billion nor was it notified of such payment.
``There were claims and counterclaims on the pages of newspapers that the Minister of Communications Technology acknowledged the payment.
``Other sources claimed that MTN paid the money into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Recovery Account.
Reacting, the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, said he acted on the demand of the Attorney General, adding that he was never aware of what money was going to be put in that account.
Representative of the Attorney-General, Mr Dayo Akpata, said he was not in a position to answer the questions.