The federal government on Tuesday distanced itself from an out of court settlement offer by telecoms giant, MTN Nigeria, over the $3.9 billion fine slammed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, last year October.
The NCC imposed the hefty fine of $5.2bn on MTN for failure to deactivate 5.1 million pre-registered subscriber lines but later reduced the fine to $3.4 billion. The fine was again increased to $3.9 billion after the regulator admitted making an error in its calculation.
The initial $5.2bn figure was arrived at by multiplying N200,000 ($1,000) times the number of pre-registered subscriber lines the telecoms firm failed to deactivate.
However, in a statement at the time, MTN Nigeria said the manner of the imposition of the fine and the quantum thereof was not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act and therefore there are valid grounds upon which to challenge the fine.
The company last week Friday issued a statement, saying it would now settle the case with the government out of court.
But the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu on Tuesday in Abuja, said the federal government was not aware of any out of court settlement over the fine.
“We are not aware of any out of court settlement on the issue. We will not accept out of court settlement until MTN willingly discontinue the case”, the Minister said at a press conference where he unveiled the new ICT road map for 2016-2020.
According to Mr. Shittu, MTN wanted to buy time by taking the federal government to court instead of paying the fine.
He stated that the government would follow the matter to a logical conclusion.