Federal government has set conditions including the payment of a “show of good faith” by MTN Nigeria before she (the federal government) can consider the telecom giant’s proposal for an out of court settlement in the protracted feud occasioned by the N780 billion fine imposed on MTN by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu made this known during a media parley with ICT journalists in Lagos that the federal government cannot return to renegotiation table with the telco until substantial fraction of the fine has been paid to indicate its readiness to settle the issue.
MTN had taken the NCC to court after the commission in November 2015 slammed a N1.04 trillion fine on it for failing to deactivate millions of unregistered subscribers.
The fine was later reduced to N780 billion by the NCC.
Shittu said: “When MTN came, we understood their pleas. However, we added that if you cannot meet up with the fine, you have to add your account details to show that upon paying, your company will collapse.
They are yet to respond on that. The next thing was for me to get a call they are going to court. And now, they are coming back for out of court settlement. We don’t want MTN to die; rather, we want them to obey the law.”
The minister said initially when MTN was fined; the company acknowledged the registration default and pleaded for leniency and that President Muhammadu Buhari reduced the fine from N1.04 trillion to N780 billion out his “magnanimity”.
At the last court hearing, MTN sought for an adjournment to enable it pursue an out of court settlement with the federal government.
The communications minister had publicly dismissed the offer but made a U-turn on Monday.
He said the federal government will not give any attention until the demand is met.
The Minister however explained that “See we don’t want MTN to die; 99% of the staff are Nigerians. But when you default in the law, you have to bear the consequences; we want them to obey the law.”
It can be recalled that a court of jurisdiction in Lagos gave MTN till March 18, 2016 to settle out of court with NCC/Federal Government.