Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) through authoritative statement from the federal Government on Tuesday, insisted that mobile telecommunication firm, MTN Nigeria pay the N780billion fine imposed on it by December 31, latest.
MTN had failed to meet an earlier deadline set for November after which the NCC announced a 25 per cent reduction in the original $5billion fine. A fortnight ago, the company dragged the federal government to court, claiming the fine was in excess of the NCC’s powers. It also said its action was based on legal advice.
The federal ministry of communications on Tuesday revealed that it had engaged a five-man team of Senior Advocates of Nigeria to defend the sanction in court, making the clarifications against the backdrop of speculations on whether or not the government will stay action on the imposition of the fine.
MTN was fined for managing improperly registered 5.2m Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) Cards.
Special assistant to the minister of communications, Victor Oluwadamilare, said there was no going back on the deadline and that government will enforce the fine by December 31st.
He said: “Sequel to the suit filed by MTN, a team of very senior eminent lawyers has been put together to defend the interest of the Federal Government. I have on good authority that the lawyers have filed an objection to the MTN suit on diverse grounds.
“The suit is however without prejudice to the powers of NCC to enforce the fine clamped on MTN in line with the relevant provisions of the NCC Act.
“If ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had tackled the hydra-headed corruption monster and crass inefficiency in all spheres of governance like President Muhammadu Buhari is presently doing, the MTN saga would not have happened, not to talk of MTN’s audacity to go to court over a clear case of gross misconduct of trading 5.2million lines illegally in clear contravention of NCC’s guidelines.
“It seems that the MTN is still under the illusion of the permissible era of the Jonathan’s administration where anything goes. President Buhari’s government remains a purposeful and result-driven administration that brooks no nonsense and will not tolerate underhand manoeuvres.
“The leadership of the Communication sector under Minister Adebayo Shittu, whose character and integrity are impregnable, has remained focussed to ensure things are done differently for the country to achieve unprecedented success as envisioned by President Buhari.
“This will serve as deterrent to other telecoms operators in Nigeria. Nigerians are tired of poor service, Nigerians deserve the best and we will stop at nothing to do that.”