After an eight month long negotiation, MTN has agreed to pay N330 billion ($1.7 billion) to the federal government over a space of three years while also saying that it will henceforth comply with the directives of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
MTN also said it will ensure the listing of 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.
“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 on Friday.
“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.”
The agreed 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.
Although the fine was subsequently reduced to N780 billion, MTN failed to pay the penalty, and even filed a suit against the government.
It eventually withdrew the case, and paid N50 billion toward a possible settlement.
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” Elaborating further, he said, “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.”
Commenting on the final resolution of the NCC fine, MTN Group Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko expressed his thanks to the Federal Government of Nigeria for the spirit in which the matter was resolved saying ‘ this is the best outcome for the company, its stakeholders, the Federal Government and the Nigerian people and the relationship between MTN, the Federal Government and the NCC has been restored and strengthened.’’
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.