Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Why We Reduced Mtn’s N1.04trn Fine – NCC



The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has defended its action to reduce the N1.04 trillion fine on MTN Nigeria to N780 billion, saying it acted in the interest of the stability of the telecom sector. 

The commission said it weighed all pros and cons and arrived at a decision it considered favourable to all concerned. Director public Affairs of the NCC, Mr Tony Ojobo, said that after considering the operator’s admission of guilt, huge investment in the country, the large subscriber base and Nigeria being its largest market, the decision to arrive at the reduction was not too difficult. 

According to Ojobo, “MTN wrote the commission, acknowledged that there has been an infraction and are now pleading for leniency . In the past we have also had people plead for leniency on their sanctions. At that time, of course the NCC board has not been constituted, no Minister, the authority of the president was required for such a decision to be taken in the absence of the minister, and so the commission had to notify the presidency. 

“The stakeholders looked at it with all the pros and cons and reduced the fine by 25 percent. We are aware and conscious of the level of investment MTN has made in this market; they have the largest number of subscribers, it is also important to know that Nigeria remains their biggest market. We have taken all into considerations, and that was what even informed the discussion in the first place. 
Weighing all of these issues, is why this action has been taken”. 

The controversy surrounding the unprecedented One trillion, four hundred million Naira fine the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, slammed on MTN Nigeria for allegedly not being able to disconnect about 5.1 million improperly registered subscribers on its network, appeared settled Thursday, last week, when the regulator reduced the fine by 25 percent. 

Although the telecommunications company, alleged that the commission conveyed the message to them in a conflicting manner, with two letters bearing conflicting figures, the Commission has since admitted that the first letter bearing 35 percent reduction was in error and therefore should be discarded while the second, bearing 25 percent should be regarded as the authentic. 

According to Ojobo, “there was a mistake in figure of the first letter which immediately prompted the second one. “The actual decision is that the Commission, has after due considerations of MTN’s consistent pleas and admission of guilt, among other factors, decided to reduce the fine by 25 percent”. With the explanation, the commission says it expected MTN Nigeria to perfectly understand without any ambiguity that the fine has been reduced to N780 billion Naira of which it has not more than December 31, 2015 to settle. 

The telecommunications company on its part has promised to study the new development while directing its Executive Chairman, Mr Phutma Nlekho to urgently engage the Nigerian government with a view to getting resolutions that would prompt its official response. 

However, the commission’s decision to reduce the fine and the figure at which it arrived at, have also elicited reactions from the Nigerian public. Although, notable Information technology practitioners have refrained from making comments on the whole issue. Those who Vanguard sought their opinion on the issue pleaded to be left out of the debate, saying the sensitive nature of the fine makes industry players opinion very implicating.

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