MTN Nigeria is in the eye of the storm and the turbulence is getting worse by the day.
In a holding statement issued to formally acknowledge the issue, MTN said “the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has imposed a N1.4 trillion fine ($5.2bn) on MTN Nigeria. This fine relates to the timing of the disconnection of the 5.1 million MTNN subscribers that were disconnected in August & September 2015 and is based on a N200, 000 fine for each improperly registered subscriber. MTN Nigeria is currently in discussions with the NCC to resolve the matter in recognition of the circumstances that prevailed with regard to these subscribers. We will continue to update shareholders in this regard.”
On Monday November 2, 2015 MTN finally agreed to pay the fine, making it the one of the biggest corporate fines in history. (BP currently holds the record for the $18.7bn fine it was handed down for the 2010 deep water oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.) But by mid-day, the company’s shares had been suspended on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and its global CEO, Sifo Dabengwa, who is no stranger to Nigeria having headed the Nigerian arm had flown into Abuja to confer with top government officials.
Since the NCC handed down the fine, tongues have been wagging with many commentators setting social media and newspaper pages ablaze with analysis, viewpoints and perspectives with many arguing that the fine, if carried out, will send a wrong signal to investors with the potential of killing MTN and costing Nigerians their jobs.
Popular and respected columnist, Simon Kolawole wading into the fray in his back page column in Sunday Thisday said the fine is akin to “killing a fly with a nuclear bomb.”
But is Simon and other commentators’ right? Is MTN being high handed? Is the fine too much? Does MTN deserve this?
Sabinews.com has looked at the facts on the ground and can reveal that MTN is indeed guilty as charged and here are 5 reasons:
MTN is a serial offender: In August this year, the quartet of top mobile operators, MTN, Airtel, Glo and Etisalat were fined a cumulative sum of N120.4m after they failed to deactivate 10.7m lines with “unregistered or improperly registered subscriber data.” The order was given in August and sanction handed down in September.
Of that sum, MTN paid the highest N102.2 million; Globacom paid N7.4 million; Etisalat, N7 million; and Airtel, N3.8 million. After that fine, many would have thought that MTN would have learnt its lessons and tried to comply.
MTN has no respect for Nigerian authorities: Why didn’t MTN comply with the regulations? It all boils down to what analysts see as scant regard for Nigerian law. At a recent forum to discuss issues bordering on telecommunications and national security which had in attendance top NCC staffers and high ranking members of the security services, MTN was alleged to have sent in low ranking officers who had nothing to contribute showing clear contempt.
MTN was signatory to the N200,000 rule per unregistered SIM: Many people have said the fine is too much and prohibitive but is it? MTN was signatory to the regulation recommending a fine of N200,000 for any unregistered SIM found on a network. The regulation was signed in May 2014 with MTN as signatory so whither the prohibitive fine? Multiply 5.1m MTNN subscribers by N200,000 and see what you get.
MTN’s actions undermined Nigerian security: With the Nigerian government prosecuting an all-out war against Boko Haram, the actions of MTN show a lack of ethical consideration and professionalism because by leaving unregistered SIMs on its network, it was helping criminals and undermining Nigeria’s security something they cannot broach in South Africa.
The whole issue came to the fore when former SGF and presidential aspirant Olu Falae was kidnapped. The kidnappers were alleged to have had unregistered SIMs belonging to MTN.
2 Banks were recently fined, so can MTN escape: Things have changed in Nigeria. A little over a week ago, two Nigerian banking behemoths were fined for contravening the Central Bank Rules on the Treasury Single Account, TSA. They had not even fully digested news of the fine when their accounts were debited to the tune of N4bn.
Now, with those two having been fined, there is no way in hell MTN will go free. The times have changed and PMB wants an end to impunity which is just the only way to describe the actions of MTN Nigeria.