How Nigerians Have Reacted to the CBN, AGF vs MTN Controversy

Over the last two weeks, we all have heard the news of the allegations and accusations of illegal fund repatriation and tax omission between the CBN, MTN, Attorney-General of the Federation and four major banks. As the news continues to make the rounds with new developments bringing fresh perspectives, Nigerians have continued to have their take on the matter. Here are a few examples of how Nigerians have reacted thus far with some analysis on the side. We have tried to be as objective as possible. Happy reading!!

This Twitter user is pointing to the extreme measures regulatory bodies like CBN  have adopted over the years and how draconian this recent sanction appears. This, in a way makes sense, as major companies have left the country due to extreme and unfavorable regulatory policies. For a country hoping to improve its economy, stifling businesses with unnecessarily rigid policies is surely not the best route to take.

There are those that are of the opinion that regulatory measures such as that of CBN and the AG against MTN will further scare away foreign investors from the country as these investors now see Nigeria’s business landscape as a rough and difficult terrain to do business.

Some actually believe that this is a shakedown by a cash strapped government seeking to boost reserves. With foreign reserves depleted, interest rates rising and the most anticipated national elections yet looming close, this theory is indeed a curious one.

Some have also opined that this is just a ploy to ensure the telecommunications giant does not become too big and uncontrollable.

And then there is also the fear that MTN will give up and withdraw all its investment in the country and we know what that means; at least 500 thousand people will lose their jobs.

Some think these sanctions are a big blow to the impending IPO by the telecommunications company. It is believed that with recent developments, the IPO might be suspended indefinitely which invariably deprives Nigerians of owning a stake in the most successful mobile company in the country’s history. Well at least for the meantime. And if the company decides to leave, then no IPO, no Nigerians having stakes in the company simple. Bad news for investors!!!

Well this is not far from the truth, the NCC is the regulatory body that regulates MTN’s industry, so what right does the CBN and the AG have to sanction the company you may ask?

Well, we are still searching for answers too. A lot of people do not understand it either. When the NCC sanctioned MTN in 2016, there were less murmurs than we have now because the right regulatory body fined the company and they have every right to by the way (MTN hardly complained and has paid more than half of that fine in a 2-year span). Now, the CBN is essentially sanctioning MTN with the AG’s office following suit.  

Who knows the next regulatory body that will fail in line to dish out its own penalty to the company.

By the way, this analysis by BusinessDay critically examines the AGF’s rights to collect tax.

In a recent move to protect its assets and shareholders rights within the confines of the law, MTN has filed for injunction against the CBN and AGF. We continue to curiously monitor the issue and developments and hope for the best for all parties involved especially the masses.