By Oluwatobi Opusunju
Only 33.5% (N110bn) out of the N330bn fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has been paid by MTN Nigeria. Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta revealed this week at a workshop on Code of Corporate Governance organised by the Commission in Kano.
In October 2015, the telecom regulator imposed a fine of N1.04 trillion on MTN Nigeria for not complying with government’s rule on deactivation of unregistered SIM cards and disconnecting about 5.1 million improperly registered lines in its network within the stipulated deadline.
The fine was unprecedented. After several appeals and negotiations including diplomatic intervention by the South African government, the fine was reduced to N330bn.
MTN initially made a commitment payment of N50Billion to the government while the remaining balance of N280 billion was to be paid in six tranches in accordance with the agreements between the regulator and the telco.
The payment of the fine was spread over a three-year period as it was not the commission’s intention to stifle the telco out of market even while trying to exert its mandate, said Danbatta in the commercial city of Kano in north of Nigeria.
Danbatta also stated that the commission was rejigging its regulatory oversights to ensure that consumers get value for money spent on telecoms services.
“Current evaluation report of the state of the industry suggests that while not understating the impact of other external and fiscal issues confronting the sector, that most challenges negatively affecting the health of operators in the sector today are attributable to poor governance issues.
“It is currently rejigging its regulatory oversights in the areas of ensuring that consumers get cost-effective value for money spent on telecommunications services; and that service delivery by providers are qualitative and efficient,” he said.
Last year, the regulator launched the ‘Year of the Consumer’ campaign to raise awareness on consumers-related issues in the telecom sector.