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MTN gets Friday deadline to pay $5.2b fine

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

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

“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

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

“The above Regulations were developed with the
full participation of all key industry Stakeholders
including all Mobile Network Operators (MNO) in

“The Commission on its part has a statutory
responsibility to monitor and enforce compliance
to the rules. More so, when national security is at

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

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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