The Federal Government has received N80 billion of the N330 billion fines imposed on Mobile Telecommunication giant, MTN Nigeria for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM cards from it network.
The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who disclosed the amount received by the government in Abuja, said that the company paid the sum as the first installment.
He added that the government had given the telecom company a three years window to complete the payment of the fines.
It would be recalled that the federal Government initially imposed $5.2 billion fine on the company but later reduced it to N330 billion after several pleas.
“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,” Shittu said.
MTN, he said, had no choice because when the law was made, it was for every unregistered SIM card in use.
The fine, according to the law is N200, 000 and the law never anticipated that one company will be in violation to the tune of 5 million lines.
Explaining reasons the fine was reduced, the minister disclosed that MTN did four things which further compelled the apex government to reconsider its decision.
“When it happened, the MTN did four things; one they accepted that they were in default, two, they apologized for that and three they committed themselves never to allow such a thing to happen and number four, they asked for remission.”
“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.
“Consequently, 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,’’ he said.
The minister said that even in the court system, if one was fined and could not pay for one reason or the other, the person would ask for reconsideration either by way of appeal or bringing a motion.
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