After an eight month long negotiation, the federal government has slashed the fine imposed on MTN to N330 billion, and the organisation has agreed to pay the amount.
The sum is a third of N1.04 trillion penalty MTN got from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to comply with a directive to disconnect 5.1 million improperly registered lines.
According to Tony Ojobo, spokesman of the NCC, MTN agreed to pay the amount over a space of three years.
He explained that having paid N50 billion initially, the organisation will balance up N280 billion.
MTN paid N50 billion in February after withdrawing a suit to challenge the fine which had then been reduced to N780 billion.
Ojobo said by the terms of agreement, the N280 billion balance will be made in six tranches. He gave the breakdown as: N30 billion into NCC’s treasury single account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 30 days from June 10.
Other dates and amounts of the agreements are: March 31, 2017 (N30Billion), March 31, 2018 (N55Billion), December 31, 2018 (N55Billion), March 31, 2019 (N55Billion) and May 31, 2019 (N55Billion).
The NCC spokesman said MTN has also agreed to list its shares in the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
The company pulled out of NSE amid the crisis, and later issued a statement to debunk reports that it was considering getting listed again.
The organisation confirmed the deal with the government in a statement issued on Friday.
“Further to several weeks of negotiations between MTN, NCC and the federal government, the following agreed terms have been announced. MTN will pay the NCC the sum of N330 billion in full and final settlement of the fine in line with an agreed payment plan,” MTN said.
“In addition to the monetary settlement, MTN Nigeria undertakes to: subscribe to the voluntary observance of the code of corporate governance for the telecommunications industry and will ensure compulsory compliance. The company also undertakes to take immediate steps to ensure listing of its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as soon as is commercially and legally possible.”
Commenting on the settlement, Ferdi Moolman, chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, said: “MTN Nigeria once again offers its most sincere apologies for the series of unfortunate events that led to the imposition of the fine.
“It was of critical importance to reach a solution that would be of universal benefit to all stakeholders given the importance of the ICT industry in Nigeria and its tremendous impact on socio-economic growth. Along with the authorities, we believe that has been achieved.
“MTN Nigeria is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s success stories. Broader public participation exemplifies this.”
President Muhammadu Buhari failed to comment on the sanction imposed on the telco until President Jacob Zuma, his South African counterpart, visited the country in March.
Buhari had said the failure of the company to comply with the directive of NCC had an effect on the battle against insurgency.
“This is the first time I will be personally, as a president, making a public comment about it. The concern of the federal government is basically on the security and not the fine imposed on MTN,” he had said.
“You know how the unregistered GSM are being used by terrorists. And between 2009 and today, at least 10,000 Nigerians were killed by Boko Haram.”