Africa’s leading telecommunication outfit, MTN was fined $1,000 for each line uncut by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) resulting to its $5.2 billion fine.
In a meeting with the state security agency and all operators on August 4, the NCC had asked MTN to cut off between 10 and 18.6 million users but MTN told the regulator that it only had 5.2 million users whose identity could not be verified, a NCC source said.
“MTN was under the presumption that it can carry on business as usual because it was still in discussion with the regulators,” the source said.
According to Reuters, the fine on MTN is based on a $1,000 for each phone line MTN failed to cut off.
By September, other operators, which include United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat and India’s Bharti Airtel, had fully verified their users and cut off those they could not verify their identity while MTN had made a “partial attempt”, the NCC said.
Then, on October 22, four weeks after the abduction of Falae and about two months after the August deadline, the NCC, on advice from the state security agency, decided to impose the fine but only made it public four days later.
“These SIM cards with invalid registrations pose a grave security risk to the country,” the NCC memo said. “The recent kidnapping of the former finance minister Chief Olu Falae is one example of this risk.”
MTN also faces a Johannesburg bourse investigation on the timing of its announcement of the penalty. The company declined to comment.