The Federal Government, yesterday, said it would neither be cowed nor threatened by MTN’s decision to go to court over the fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.
The NCC imposed a N1.4 trillion fine on MTN Nigeria for failing to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered phone subscribers from its network in flagrant disobedience to several directives to do so,. However, following negotiations between the MTN Group and the Nigerian Government, the fine was later reduced to N780 billion, with the initial deadline for payment also extended from November 16, to December 31, 2015.
Reacting to MTN’s suit filed against the federal government at a Lagos High Court, weekend, Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu yesterday insisted that the telecommunications company risks another fine if it fails to pay at the expiration of the deadline, irrespective of the court action.
The Minister, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Victor Oluwadamilare, however, acknowledged MTN’s right to seek judicial interpretation if it feels unsatisfied with the action of action of the NCC.
According to Shittu, “it is the right of MTN to approach the court but there was an infraction, which MTN admitted to have committed before it pleaded for leniency that led to the reduction of the fine from N1.4 trillion to N780 billion and the subsequent December 31, 2015 deadline to pay.
“If it has decided to go to court, it is still within the ambit of the law. I will not intervene, since they have gone to court, we will allow the court to decide if it is right for MTN to commit those infractions and breach the laws of the land”.
He, however, said that “it is unwise for MTN to go to court after the Federal Government had magnanimously reduced the fine. It will surely be fined for violating the rule at the expiration of the deadline, should it fail to pay the initial fine”.