Yesterday, South African-based telecoms giant, MTN, paid a sum of N50 Billion ($251.3 million) out of the N780 billion fine imposed by the National Communications Commission(NCC), following its failure to disconnect unregistered subscribers. In an official statement released by MTN, the company made a “good faith payment” of N50 billion and subsequently withdrew its court challenge as part of the Federal High Court’s verdict toward a possible settlement before the 18th of March.Victor Oluwadamilare, the spokesman for the NCC, stated that MTN was “tired of staying in court and is now ready to face the reality of the fine.” The Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman, said the decision to withdraw the case was to create a conducive atmosphere for further negotiations with the Nigerian authorities. He also revealed that the company’s Executive Chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko, is leading negotiations with the government.
However, it is not clear whether or not the NCC has accepted the condition or terms under which the case was withdrawn by MTN; the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister, Mr. Victor Oluwadare, said that the government and the ministry will make their positions known after acknowledging the payment of the said amount, adding that it is currently difficult to validate whether or not MTN paid the said amount.
He stated further that if what is paid falls short of what is expected of the telecom company, the government will come up with a detailed reaction in the best interest of Nigeria. If it is confirmed that MTN has paid a particular sum of money, the next step will be to look at what was paid in relation to what is expected of them to pay as the fine. As of now, the NCC is only studying the situation and will hopefully have a clear hang of things before the end of the week.
The payment of N50 billion is MTN’s first attempt in responding to the hefty fine imposed by the NCC in October 2015. Nigerians now await the payment of the remaining amount as MTN plans to announce its full-year financial results at the beginning of March .