President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has stated that the federal government is not dealing directly with leading telecommunication outfit, MTN, contrary to reports that the Nigerian government cornered NCC to deal with MTN directly.
Buhari who spoke at a joint press conference with visiting South African president, Jacob Zuma at the presidential villa, Abuja said the hefty fine imposed was due to the failure of MTN to respond fast enough to the order of the regulator to properly register GSM lines on its network, a fact which he said aided Boko Haram insurgency.
Hinting that the federal government is not dealing with MTN, Buhari said: “Since MTN has decided to withdraw its case from court, it is free to go back to the relevant government agencies to see if the fine can be reduced and paid in installments.”
The Nigerian president explained to his South African counterpart that: “The concern of the federal government is basically on the security and not the fine imposed on MTN. 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. That was why NCC asked MTN, Glo and the rest of them to register GSM. Unfortunately, MTN was very, very slow and contributed to the casualties,” Buhari said.
MTN was initially fined $5.2 billion by NCC but the fine was pruned to $3.9 billion. Not satisfied with the reduction, the South African telco dragged the federal government to court but later withdrew the suit.
MTN has so far paid $250 million after withdrawing the suit it instituted against NCC and the President’s comments is indicative that he has given the go ahead to the regulator to further negotiate with the telecommunications firm.