Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Telecommunications on Wednesday insisted that MTN must pay the N1. 04 trillion fine given to it by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) over the failure to deactivate unregistered SIM cards in the country.
The Committee also said the fine if paid will redefine the relationship between the telecommunications operators and the regulator.
Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Saheed Akinade-Fijabi stated that the N50 billion paid by MTN as a down payment for negotiations out of court was not adequate to make up for allegedly undermining government’s efforts to tackle security challenges in the country.
“The law is there to serve as deterrent for you not to go against them.
“MTN has been trying to circumvent the process and find a way of running away from the law instead of them facing the music”.
Also, member of the Committee, Rep. Johnson Agbonayinma said that MTN violated sections 19 and 20 of the Telephone Subscribers Regulations under the Communications Act 2010.
“Therefore MTN’s failure to deactivate 5.2million SIM cards should be liable to a fine of N2.8 trillion,’’ Agbonayinma said.
Section 19 of the Act reads: “Any licensee who fails to capture register, deregister or transmit the details of every individual or corporate subscriber to the central data base as specified in the regulation or as may be stipulated from time to time by the Commission is liable to a penalty of N200 000 for each subscription medium”.
On his part. the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Umar Danbatta assured the committee that the committee will ensure compliance by the various telecommunication operators to register all SIM cards in the country adding that it is a continuous process.
“There is ongoing registration exercise by all operators and NCC will do enforcement checking to ensure compliance.
On the payment of N50bn by MTN he said, “I do not know the account where the money was paid into.
“The commission only received a letter from the Attorney-General of the Federation indicating that MTN had paid the amount into the federal government account”.
Recall that the NCC on Oct. 2015 issued a fine of N1.04 trillion against MTN Nigeria for failing to disconnect subscribers with unregistered SIM cards.