MTN gets Friday deadline to pay $5.2b fine

By 03:21 Tue, 17 Nov 2015 Comments



The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)

yesterday extended to Friday the deadline given to

MTN to pay a $5.2billion fine.

The commission also said it sanctioned the

telecommunications giant based on security

reasons following its failure to deactivate

5.2million unregistered SIM cards.

It said it acted in the national interest and to

protect innocent Nigerians from falling victim of

terrorists using unregistered SIM cards .

According to a top shot in NCC, the deadline was

extended to Friday for more consultations.

The source said: “Although the deadline expired on

Monday, we have extended it to Friday to enable all

parties to conclude ongoing talks.

“Definitely by the end of the week(Friday), we will

issue another statement. We hope that we would

have finalised ongoing discussions in the interest

of all parties. Our official position will be known by

the end of the week.

“We decided not to be rigid about the deadline to

allow for the conclusion of talks.”

The NCC, in a statement by its Director, Public

Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, broke its silence on why

MTN was sanctioned.

It said the sanctions became inevitable because

national security was at stake.

The NCC statement said: “Following the sanctions

placed on MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian

Communications Commission (NCC), members of

the public have expressed diverse interest as to

what actually transpired.

“The fine was a result of violation of Section 20(1)

of the Registration of Telephone Subscribers

Regulation of 2011.

“Section 20 (1) of Registration of Telephone

Subscribers Regulations 2011 states that: ‘Any

licensee who activates or fails to deactivate a

subscription medium in violation of any provision

of these Regulations is liable to a penalty of

N200,000.00 for each unregistered but activated

subscription medium.”

“The fine of N1.04trillion on MTN Nigeria by the

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was

done in the interest of the public, which has been

at the receiving end of security challenges.

“Consequent upon the overwhelming evidence of

non-compliance, and obvious disregard to the rule

of engagement by MTN, the NCC had no choice but

to impose the sanctions.

“MTN, in a letter of November 2, 2015 admitted the

infraction and pleaded for leniency. The

Commission has acknowledged this and is looking

into their plea without any prejudice to the fine.

The fine remains but the appeal and other

engagements with MTN may affect the payment

deadline.”

NCC also gave the details of how MTN had

committed infractions and its neglect of warnings.

It added: “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.

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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