The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, yesterday hinted that it may consider the plea by MTN Nigeria for an out-of-court settlement over the $3.9 billion fine it imposed on the telecoms operator.
The NCC last October imposed the fine on MTN for failing to deactivate 5.1 million pre-registered lines from its network, despite repeated warnings to do so.
The leading telecoms operator, which had a December 31, 2015 deadline to pay the fine, instead took the federal government to court.
However, the company’s option to seek an out-of-court settlement, as contained in a statement it issued last Friday, was rejected out rightly by the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who vowed that government would see the matter to a logical conclusion.
Mr. Shittu further accused MTN of buying time by going to court, instead of paying the fine before the expiration of the December deadline.
Adopting a more flexible approach to the impasse, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Garba Danbatta, said the commission’s lawyers were already holding negotiations with MTN on an out-of-court deal.
Speaking at an international press conference in Lagos yesterday, Danbatta said: “I can confirm that MTN still seeks out of court settlement. MTN is trying to get this issue settled amicably. We have been informed by our own counsel that the Honourable Judge handling the case has granted the request for a settlement on the matter”.
“The intention is not to kill MTN because we would like the industry to continue. We would like it to be vibrant and I think this is a matter that needs to be resolved amicably and we are working towards that”, he said.