The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has defended its decision to reduce the N1.04 trn fine on MTN Nigeria to N780 billion, saying it acted in the interest of the stability of the telecom sector.
The NCC said after weighing the pros and cons of the initial fine handed down, it arrived at a decision it considered favourable to all concerned.
According to the Director, Public Affairs of the NCC, Mr Tony Ojobo, after considering the operator’s admission of guilt, huge investment in the country, the large subscriber base and Nigeria being its largest market, the decision to arrive at the reduction was not too difficult.
“MTN wrote the commission, acknowledged that there has been an infraction and are now pleading for leniency. In the past we have also had people plead for leniency on their sanctions,” Ojobo said.
“At that time, of course the NCC board has not been constituted, no minister, the authority of the president was required for such a decision to be taken in the absence of the minister, and so the commission had to notify the presidency.
“The stakeholders looked at it with all the pros and cons and reduced the fine by 25 per cent. We are aware and conscious of the level of investment MTN has made in this market; they have the largest number of subscribers, it is also important to know that Nigeria remains their biggest market.
“We have taken all into considerations, and that was what even informed the discussion in the first place. Weighing all of these issues, is why this action has been taken,” Ojobo said.
NCC had fined MTN for failing to disconnect about 5.1 million improperly registered subscribers on its network. This led to a series of restructuring at MTN and reduced investor confidence which sent the company’s shares crashing by 30 percent since October.