AN ACT OF GOOD FAITH
MTN Nigeria pays N50 billion: Withdraws case with NCC from court
The ongoing regulation and fine debacle between leading telecoms company MTN Nigeria and Nigeria’s Communication Commission has finally received a positive calm as MTN Nigeria today announced it has paid N50 Billion to the Federal Government as a gesture of good faith and commitment to continued efforts towards an amicable resolution.
The bold step follows the withdrawal of its case against NCC at the Federal High Court of Lagos in response to request by authorities and in renewed steps towards a negotiated settlement. The move will also help to create a conducive atmosphere for further negotiations, a move that many observers didn’t predict.
Recall that the NCC had imposed a N1.04 Trillion fine on MTN Nigeria in October 2015, for its failure to disconnect 5.1 Million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline. Subsequently the fine was adjusted by 25% to N780 Billion, an amount that was many agreed collapse the business. MTN Nigeria subsequently sought judicial determination as a means of protecting the local ecosystems valued and supported by MTN’s business.
Speaking about the withdrawal of the court case and the N50 Billion payment, The Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria Ferdi Moolman stated that “We are hopeful at this stage. Along with the authorities, it is clear that we are collectively committed to working towards a solution that is of mutual benefit to all parties. Our industry in Nigeria is an incredibly important example of the remarkable progress in ICT particularly as a much needed catalyst for socio economic growth and development at this time”.
There have been doubts on what the next step would be on the side of both parties among analysts and economic observers since MTN Nigeria decided to approach the court. However, this new development reflects the commitment of both parties to ensure stability in the fledging Nigeria economy. For MTN Nigeria’s it reflects an intention to achieve a lasting solution on the issue while on the side of the government, it connotes a government that listens.
An apology from MTN Nigeria signals remorse and humility; but the acceptance of the Nigeria authorities also indicates the demeanor of a responsive government. MTN Nigeria has through taxes and other levies, employment generation and other activities contributed about 4% of Nigeria’s GDP.
With this latest move, analysts believe foreign investor who had hitherto expressed reservations about regulatory affairs in Nigeria business environment may reconsider their thoughts, to benefit Nigeria in the long run. It’s surely a happy ending to a prolong regulatory drama ever witnessed in the telecommunication sector. We look ahead to brighter days of rewarding relationships and benefits as the government focus on other initiatives that will further improve the economy.
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