The House of Representatives has opposed the proposed reduction of the N1. 040 trillion ($5.2b) fine imposed GSM operator MTN by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).
The lawmakers said non-inclusion of the National Assembly in the consultation before “unilaterally” reducing the fine was wrong.
Chairman of the House committee on communications, Hon. Saheed Fijabi (APC, Oyo), who gave this indication in Abuja said the action “was an embarrassment to Nigeria”
He regretted that the fine and the accompanying error in its multiple reduction has dealt a huge blow to the country’s image in the comity of nations, with uncomplimentary remarks about the error at international fora.
The chairman also expressed reservations over the N6.2b budgeted for Subscriber Identity Module (sim) card registration out of which the Commission said it has spent about N3.5b.
The Committee was mandated by the House to investigate the curent impasse in the telecommunication sector.
He said: “Our observers may presume that we, as a nation either have no rules of operation with regards to business operations or if we do, we may lack sincerity in our operations.
“It is embarrassing for instance to listen to what the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) had to say concerning the present impasse.
“It is equally appalling to observe the conflict in figures with regards to the reduction of the fine and discussions making rounds concerning the action or inaction of the of the National Assembly”.
The chairman also expressed its determination to unravel what informed the initial fine of over N1 trillion as well as those behind the reductions from 35 percent to 25 percent.
Fijabi said everyone connected to the issue would be invited for interaction.
In its response, the management of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), led by its Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Danbatta said all the mobile network operarors were given the opportunity to reconcile their records before the penalty was handed down.
The total number of initial invalidated sim cards, according to him was broken down into 11,550,819 million for MTN; 2,654,877 for Etisalat; 824,946 for Glo; 3,500,000 for Airtel; and 297,300 for Visafone.
The EVC however said except for MTN, the other four operarors showed substantial compliance by meeting the initial set deadline for the deactivation of the invalidated lines.
He also disclosed that MTN formally agreed to the infractions it was charged with by the regulatory body after failing to adhere to the regulatory body’s directives on unregistered sim cards.
According to him, the deduction of the MTN fine, first 35 percent then 25 percent was decided by an inter-agency committee since the Commission has no governing board in place yet.
He also stated that MTN was given a deadline of December 31, 2015 to pay the N780b fine.
“The process was carried out transparently, we did our duty and as a duty to this country, not for publicity to get at any one,” he added.