Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday declared unconstitutional, the downward review of the N1.04 trillion fine given to MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for its failure to deregister 5.2 million unregistered sim cards on its network.
While frowning at the said N50bn paid by MTN to the Federation Account the lower chamber noted that reducing the fine to N780 million would require an amendment of the NCC (Telephone Subscribers Registration) Regulation 2011 which stipulates a fine of N200, 000 for each unregistered sim card.
On this note, the House setup an ad hoc committee to specifically investigate the negotiations of MTN with the Federal Government.
This resolution by the House was sequel to a motion “Urgent Matter Of National Importance” sponsored by Hon. Johnson Agbonayinma.
“MTN ought to have been fined under both Section 19 and Section 20 respectively with cumulative penalty of N3.12 trillion, and not N1.04 trillion, which is a gross violation of the combined reading of the NCC Act,” he said.
The Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said the House insisted that the Chief Executive Officer of MTN, Ferdinand Moolman, honours the summon of the Telecommunications Committee.
He said that the letter written by Moolman referring the committee to other agencies of which it regulates is distasteful adding that MTN which is a South African firm would not dare write such letter to the country’s parliament.
The Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, noted that since the N200, 000 fine per unregistered sim card is fixed, the only way to review it would be through the parliament.
He urged the committee to investigate who authorised the negotiation and reduction.
Also, Hon. Nnanna Igbokwe queried the role of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, in taking over the negotiations and excluding the NCC.
“The AGF needs to justify the grounds for his intervention as it is not a matter between two governments, but a government and a business. Does he or the NCC have the power to review the fine? Does that not amount to amending the law?” he said.
Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara in his remarks said, “for you to adjust the fine, you have to adjust the Law that is where I am finding difficulty”.
The House adopted the motion after it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker.