Saturday, 11 June 2016

N1.04tn Fine: NCC, MTN Agree on Staggered Payment

After about six months of negotiation over the N1.04tn fine imposed on MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission, the fine was on Friday reduced to N330bn.

In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Friday, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, said the payment would be made over a period of three years.

The balance of N280bn will be made in six tranches in the following order. According to Ojobo, the amount includes the goodwill payment of N50bn earlier made by MTN to the government.

By the terms of agreement, MTN will pay N30bn into NCC’s Treasury Single Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria 30 days from the date of the agreement dated June 10, 2016.

Other dates of payments include: March 31, 2017, N30bn; March 31, 2018, N55bn; December 31, 2018, N55bn; March 31, 2019, N55bn; and the balance of N55bn will be paid  by May 31, 2019.

The agreement and resolutions were signed by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, NCC Commission Secretary, Mr. Felix Adeoye, Chief Executive of MTN, Fredinand Moolman and MTN’s Company Secretary, Mrs. Uto Ukpanah, and witnessed by Mr. Tony Ojobo, NCC Director, Public Affairs; Mr. Usman Malah, Chief of Staff to the EVC, NCC; Ms Helen Obi, Assistant Director, Legal, NCC and Ms. Amina Oyagbola, Corporate Executive, MTN.

It was also agreed that MTN shall undertake the following:

Tender an apology in line with the apology previously tendered in correspondences relating to the matter to the government of Nigeria and Nigerians within the one month of the execution of the agreement.

Subscribe to the voluntary observance of the Code of Corporate Governance for the telecoms industry and would ensure compulsory compliance when the said code is made mandatory for the telecommunications industry.

MTN will also undertake to take immediate steps to ensure the listing of its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as soon as commercially and legally possible after the date of execution of the Settlement Agreement.

Both parties agreed that the terms of settlement could not be altered, varied, annulled or modified in any respect, except by writing duly executed by both parties.

NCC had on October 20, 2015 imposed a fine of N1.04tn on MTN for infraction of the provisions of the NCC (Registration of the telephone subscribers) Regulations, 2011; for failure to disconnect 5.1million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline.

Danbatta said the decision was taken based on professionalism and global best practices and in line with the NCC core value “to be fair, firm and forthright.”

Saturday PUNCH recalls that the initial fine of N1.04tn was later adjusted by 25 per cent to N780m. MTN Nigeria considered the fine inimical to the sustainability of its business and sought judicial determination in December 2015 to protect the extensive local ecosystem, valued and supported by MTN’s business.

However, in February 2016, at the request of the Federal Government, MTN announced the withdrawal of its case against NCC and made an initial “goodwill” payment of N50bn in order to create a conducive atmosphere for further negotiations.

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