$3.5bn MTN fine: Reps gives go ahead for talks

The House of Representatives yesterday said the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) can resume talks with MTN Group over the $3.9 billion fine imposed on it while the lawmakers continue an investigation into the penalty.

In October last year, NCC fined the telco. The chairman, House Communications Committee, Saheed Fijabi said the NCC should lead the negotiations. The lawmakers will complete their probe and release something “very soon,” he said.

“At the discretion of the President, if they (NCC) feel they want to negotiate, they should continue negotiating; we will continue with our own investigation. We don’t want to rush into any conclusion for now because of the sensitivity of the case,” Fijabi said by phone.

The NCC is reluctant to revive talks without knowing the outcome of the probe. The regulator is waiting for “official communication” from the House of Representatives regarding the outcome of the investigation before it can reopen talks, NCC spokesman Tony Ojobo said by phone. “We wouldn’t want to go ahead and conclude and then their report is saying something totally different.”

Meanwhile, MTN Group Chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko, has assured shareholders that steps were being taken to avoid a repeat of the mistakes that led to it being fined $3.9 billion by the NCC.

“We are going to beef up regulatory compliance; we could have done things differently,” Nhleko said.

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