We’re negotiating with MTN over N780bn fine – Buhari

We’re negotiating with MTN over N780bn fine – Buhari
March 08 17:37 2016

By Yabagi Mohammed

[P]resident Muhammadu Buhari has confirmed that the Federal Government is in talks with Mobile Telecommunications  Network (MTN), over the N780 billion fine imposed on the company by the   Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

According to the President, the South African telecoms company, is negotiating with the government for a possible reduction of the fine.

At a joint news conference with South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, who is on official visit to Nigeria, Buhari said the talks could also agree on a payment schedule.

The fine, imposed  in October 2015, has been controversial for some time now . The commission initially asked MTN to pay N1.04 trillion for failing to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered subscribers, but later reduced the sum to N780 billion.

The telecoms company has yet to pay the fine. In January, MTN went to court to challenge the powers of NCC to issue the fine.

After missing repeated deadlines for payment, MTN announced late February it had paid N50 billion in “good faith” towards and amicable resolution of the matter. The company also announced the withdrawal of its lawsuit.

President Buhari who was speaking publicly on the matter for the first time on Tuesday said Nigeria was not concerned about the money, but the security implication of MTN’s failure to disconnect unregistered lines.

He said the company chose to go to court rather than negotiate with the authorities.

“MTN had withdrawn their case from the court and decided to go back and renegotiate the fine, which they consider very stiff, with NCC to find ways the fine can be reduced and given time to pay gradually,” he said.