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MTN’s N1.04 Trillion Fine: Senate Queries AGF, CBN, Accountant General

Ayodele Afolabi,  Abuja

ABUJA, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Senate has accused the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), office of the Accountant General of the Federation ( OAGF) and the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN) of corruption over payment of N1.04trillion fine slammed on MTN by Nigerian Communication Commission ( NCC).

The Senate alleged that rather than allow NCC, the body that imposed the fine on MTN, enforce its compliance, circumvented it by entering into different arrangement of N300billion payment by the communication giant into a  special recovery account in clear violation of the Treasury Single Account regime ( TSA) of the present administration.

Alleged sharp practices of these institutions came to the open during an investigative session the committee had with them including MTN, Federal Ministry of Communications and NCC on controversies surrounding the fine inspite of it being litigated against in the court of law.

The Nigerian Communication Commission ( NCC) had in October last year , slammed N1.04 trillion fine on MTN for non registration of about 5million lines out of several other millions in use by its customers in Nigeria, which allegedly aided operations of the Boko Haram insurgents in no small measures between 2012 and 2015.

While Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Professor Umaru Danbaba told the committee that the fine to be paid by MTN is N780billion now , after granting it a waiver of 25% on the earlier fine as approved by the Presidency, the Attorney – General of the Federation, Accountant General and representative of CBN , gave a conflicting submission anchored on new proposal by MTN.

The proposal as tabled before the committee by the representative of the Attorney- General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, entails payment of N300billion as against N780billion, out of which tranche of N50billion have been paid by MTN into a special  recovery account opened by the office of the Accountant – General of the Federation with the CBN at the instruction of the Attorney- General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

As stated in the 13 page document titled: ” Re:Settlement  Proposal From MTN Nigeria in Respect of Fine Imposed By NCC against It”, and signed by Solicitor- General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Taiwo Abiodun , on behalf of the AGF, Abubakar Malami, the N300billion is to be paid in tranches from this year till December 31st 2020.

The Settlement proposal agreement made by MTN in respect of the N300billion reads in part: “The parties have agreed that the N50billion paid in good faith and without prejudice by MTN Nigeria on 24th February 2016, in order to commence settlement /negotiation, will form part of the monetary empowerment of this settlement .

“In five equal and annual installment between the date of execution of this agreement and 31st December 2020, MTN Nigeria , shall pay a total of N100billion by electronic fund transfer to the federal government recovery account of the Central Bank of Nigeria. These payments will commence by 31st December 2016 and be made by 31st December of each subsequent year”

MTN  further explained in the N300billion payment proposal that , the remaining N150billion will be used for participation in sovereign bond purchase and provision of access to fibre network.

According to it, its participation in sovereign bond purchase is as a demonstration of its commitment to and confidence in the Nigerian economy, and subject to necessary regulatory approvals,   while under provisions of access to fibre network, will entail it in providing the federal government of Nigeria with access ( subject to availability of excess capacity), to the company’s fibre network for the purpose of allowing the federal government to expand its e- initiates.

Though representative of the Attorney – General explained that the proposal remains a proposal since the matter is still in court, and since all parties concerned, have not accepted it, but the committee accused the office, that of the Accountant General of the Federation and CBN of already short- changing the country in the whole matter with the acceptance of N50billion , paid into the ‘recovery account’

Specifically, the Committee Chairman, Gilbert Nnaji and many of the members, queried representative of the Attorney- General for the out of court arrangement without carrying along NCC and the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu , who confessed that neither his ministry nor NCC, was carried along in the whole N300billion resettlement arrangement by MTN.

A submission that made the committee to declare that the proposal as presented , was unacceptable and that the Minister of Communications and NCC executives should be carried along in whatever out of court settlement arrangement, MTN wants to achieve on fine slammed against it.


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