The Federal Government has so far received N80 billion from the N330 billion from the revised fine imposed on MTN, by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM cards.
Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who disclosed this at a News Agency of Nigeria, NAN Forum in Abuja, said the payment was for this first year and is the first tranche of the total payment.
“For the first year, they paid N80 billion, after paying the initial N50 billion, and they will have to pay for three years until they will complete the N330 billion.
“MTN does not have a choice, when the law was made, it said for every unregistered SIM card in use, the fine is N200, 000, the law never anticipated that one company will be in violation to the tune of millions of lines.
“It was inconceivable, so when the thing was added 200,000 times 5.2 million lines, it came to a trillion plus.
“When it happened, the MTN did four things; one they accepted that they were in default, two, they apologised for that and three they committed themselves never to allow such a thing to happen and number four, they asked for remission.
“Government had to look at a number of factors because if they have to pay this amount; they will pack up.
“We also knew that we invited the international community to come and invest and anything that will be done which will shake the confidence of international investors in Nigerian economy, we must avoid it,” Shittu said.
On the criticisms by Nigerians over the fine reduction, Shittu stressed: “We must not throw away the baby with the bath water. If they had packed up and left, let us assume all their staff are not more than 5,000, it means all of those 5,000 will lose their jobs.
“Also those who made investment, who bought shares will lose their shares and the Nigeria banking sector would go into crisis.”
MTN was initially fined 5.2 billion dollars (N1.04 trillion) for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM cards but later reduced to N330 billion.