Wednesday, 30 December 2015

You Must Pay N780billion Fine By 31st December – FG To MTN Nigeria

Despite a suit in court, the Federal
Government yesterday insisted that
mobile giant MTN must pay the
N780billion fine imposed on it by the
Nigerian Communications
Commission (NCC) latest tomorrow.
The government has also engaged a
five-man team of Senior Advocates
to defend the sanction in court.
The Ministry of Communications
made the clarifications against the
backdrop of fears of whether or not
the government will stay action on
the imposition of the fine.
MTN was punished for managing
improperly registered 5.2m
Subscriber Identification Module
(SIM) Cards.
A top official said: “The fact that
MTN has gone to court does not
amount to a stay of the fine. We
have not got any order restraining
the Federal Government from
collecting the fine.
“An application before a court does
not amount to the nullification of the
sanction or a stay of action.”
The Special Assistant to the Minister
of Communications, Victor
Oluwadamilare, who spoke
exclusively with our correspondent,
said there was no going back on the
deadline.
He said the 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.”
The NCC explained how MTN
committed infractions and its neglect
of warnings.
It said: “The fine that was imposed
on MTN was the second within two
months after the operators were
given a seven-day ultimatum to
deactivate all unregistered and
improperly registered Subscriber
Identification Module (SIM) Cards.
While others complied, MTN did not.
“On August 4, 2015, at a meeting of
all the representatives of the Mobile
Network Operators (MNO), with NCC,
major security challenges through
preregistered, unregistered and
improperly registered SIM Cards
topped the agenda after which
Operators were given the ultimatum
to deactivate such within seven days.
“On August 14, 2015, three days after
the ultimatum expired, NCC carried
out a network audit, while other
Operators complied with the
directive, to deactivate the
improperly registered SIM Cards,
MTN showed no sign of compliance
at all.
“Please recall that four (4)
Operators; MTN, Airtel, Globacom
and Etisalat, were sanctioned in
August for non compliance of the
directive to deactivate the
improperly registered SIM Cards.
MTN got a fine of N102.2million,
Globacom N7.4million, Etisalat
N7million and Airtel N3.8million
fine. Others complied while MTN
flouted the fine.
“Based on the report of the
compliance Audit Team, an
Enforcement Team which visited
MTN from September 2 – 4, 2015
wherein MTN admitted that the
Team confirmed that 5.2million
improperly registered SIM Cards
were still left active on their
network; hence, a contravention of
the regulations was established.
“Consistent with the Commission’s
enforcement process, MTN was, by a
letter dated October 5, 2015, given
notice to state why it should not be
sanctioned in line with the
Regulations for failure to deactivate
improperly registered SIM Cards that
were found to be active at the time
of enforcement team’s visit of
September 15, 2015.
“On October 19, 2015, the
Commission received and reviewed
MTN’s response and found no
convincing evidence why it should
not be sanctioned for the established
violations.
“Accordingly, by a letter dated
October 20, 2015 the Commission
conveyed appropriate sanctions to
MTN in accordance with Regulations
20(1) of the Telephone Subscribers
Registration Regulation 2011, to pay
the Sum of N200,000.00 only for
each of the 5.2million improperly
registered SIM Cards.”
The statement said all stakeholders
in the industry were part of the
registration of telephone subscribers
in Nigeria.
It said: “In order to ensure proper
identification of telephone
subscribers with their biometric data
and in line with international best
practice, the Commission came up
with a framework for the
registration of telephone subscribers
in Nigeria. (Nigerian
Communications Commission
Registration of Telephone
Subscribers Regulations 2011).
“The above Regulations were
developed with the full participation
of all key industry stakeholders,
including all Mobile Network
Operators (MNO) in 2011.
“The Commission on its part has a
statutory responsibility to monitor
and enforce compliance to the rules.
More so, when national security is at
stake.”
The statement explained that
National interest is paramount
because when lives are lost they
cannot be replaced.
“As a responsible Regulator, the NCC
will not stand by and watch Rules
and Regulations for Engagement
being flouted by any Operator.
“The Commission has adopted a
smart regulation in its oversight
function in the industry, hence it has
always weighed the implications of
sanctions, that is why it had to place
the appropriate sanction
accordingly.”
The NCC statement further said that
sanctions are the last resort after all
overtures fail but this does not in
any way undermine Industry
Standards and the interest of
Investors.

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