There are indications that embattled telecoms behemoth, MTN Nigeria has made a request to the Nigerian government to allow for a staggered payment of the N1.4tr fine slammed on the company by the regulator Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to disconnect unregistered and improperly registered SIMs on its network.
The company is making the plea ahead of the expiration of the payment deadline on Monday November 16, 2015.
A report from Reuters quoting a source said “the government was considering the request, made at a meeting on Friday between MTN and high-level government officials, and that the decision would be disclosed on Monday.
MTN spokesman Chris Maroleng said: “We are waiting for authorities to come back to us”.
Nigeria has been pushing telecommunication operators to verify the identity of subscribers due to concerns that unregistered SIM cards are being used for criminal activity or even by Boko Haram militants waging an Islamist insurgency in the northeast.
“At the meeting, MTN pleaded passionately for staggered payment since the option of reduction of the fine had been ruled out,” the NCC source said.
However, a source familiar with the discussions said that an eleventh hour reduction of the fine could still be possible.
“Until the final announcement is made, there may be some room for maneuvers,” the source familiar with the situation said.
Spokesmen for Nigeria’s presidency and communications ministry declined to comment.
The fine – if fully enforced – amounts to more than the past two years’ profit for MTN in its biggest market. The new communications minister, Adebayo Shittu, told Reuters on Friday the government did not want MTN “to die” or shut down operations as a result of the penalty. Read more