The MTN Group on Thursday said it had asked its Nigerian subsidiary not pay the N780bn fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC], reports The Punch.
The NCC had initially fined MTN Nigeria N1.04tn for its failure to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered Subscriber Identification Module cards, but the fine was later reduced by 25 per cent to N780bn upon pleas by the firm.
It said having discovered that the imposition of the fine was not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act, there were valid grounds upon which to challenge it.
“Accordingly, MTN has followed due process and has instructed its lawyers to proceed with an action in the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking the appropriate reliefs,” the telecoms firm said in a statement.
The Group Public Affairs Manager, MTN Group, South Africa, Chris Maroleng, signed the statement.
He said that prior to seeking legal redress, “all factors having a bearing on the matter were thoroughly and carefully considered, including a review of the circumstances leading to the fine and the subsequent letters received from the Nigerian Communications Commission.”
“MTN is advised that in the current circumstances in line with the lis pendens rule (pending legal action), the parties are enjoined to restrain from taking further action until the matter is finally determined. This is consistent with previous judicial decisions in Nigeria,” he stated.
Maroleng added that notwithstanding the action, the MTN Group would continue to engage with the Nigerian authorities to try to ensure an amicable resolution in the best interests of the company, its stakeholders and the NCC.
“Shareholders are, therefore, advised to continue to exercise caution when dealing in the company’s securities until a further announcement is made,” he added.
However, the Public Affairs Director, NCC, Tony Ojobo, said the commission had yet to receive any court summons on the matter, adding, “When we get it, the NCC will react appropriately.”
According to him, the court is for everybody and it will serve as an opportunity to test some of Nigeria’s laws.
“The commission is ready for them. When we get the summons, we shall meet them in court,” Ojobo added.