This past week, a lot of drama happened between MTN Nigeria and NCC (Nigerian Communications Commission). NCC fined MTN Nigeria a huge sum of $5.2 billion. This lump sum was imposed on MTN because they failed to comply with set regulations.
MTN Nigeria reportedly failed to disconnect customers with unregistered SIM cards and having incomplete data. This caused the company’s shares to plummet to an all time low. Breaking it down, MTN said that the penalty is based on a fine of N200,000 ($1,005) for each unregistered subscriber – this spreads out to 5.1 million subscribers, hence the total figure.
As reported by Bloomberg, Tony Ojobo, spokesman for the Nigerian Communications Commission, said over the phone:
“Are investors not supposed to respect the laws of the land where they are operating?”
“It is in accordance with our regulations and guidelines that if service providers don’t comply they’ll face a penalty.”
Let’s not forget Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market with 62 million customers as at September. Another report from Bloomberg says that NCC gives MTN Nigeria till Nov. 16 to pay the $5.2 billion fine. Stakeholders and analysts have voiced concerns over the sheer amount of the fine, and how it may affect the Nigerian economy.
The latest reports claim that aides from MTN Nigeria and government officials (headed by Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo) have had several meetings on how to resolve the matter. Sources claimed that MTN agreed to pay the fine in the interest of its business, but has pleaded with the Federal Government for a staggered payment model.
The source also claims that the federal government “is already yielding to the plea”, and the MTN people negotiated on how to stagger the payment. The regulatory body insists that, owing to the enormity of its implication to national security, MTN would not escape the fine. MTN themselves already risk losing their operating licence if they fail to comply.
We’ll bring you more of the story as it unfolds. Stay tuned.