The Chairman of the House of Representatives Commitee on Communication Hon. Shaheed Fijabi has summoned the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, Communications Minister Alhaji Adebayo Shittu and the Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Garba Dambatta for explanation on the reduction of the fine imposed on MTN Nigeria.
The House committee on Communications is angered by the Federal Government’s decision to conclude negotiations with MTN by reducing the fine from N1.4 trillion to N330 billion.
MTN Nigeria was slammed with a N1.04 trillion fine for failing to deactivate 200,000 unregistered SIM cards in line with the regulations by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Committee Chairman Hon. Shaheed Fijabi described the action of the government as “undermining the integrity and independence of the National Assembly”.
“The two ministers, the Chief Executive Officer of NCC and all other persons involved in the negotiations are to appear before the committee on Monday next week by 10a.m.”
Meanwhile, Shittu had explained that the decision of the executive to reduce the fine slammed on the telecommunications firm, MTN Nigeria, to N330 billion, is independent of the outcome of the investigation being conducted by the House Committee on Telecommunications.
Shittu, at a meeting with the committee yesterday, insisted that relevant procedures were followed in the latest reduction to N330 billion by the government. The Minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. Sunny Echono, said claims that the inaction or delay in resolution of the negotiations with MTN was being stalled by the hearing, were incorrect. He said:
“We were told that the decision of the executive is not precluded to that of the committee.”
Shittu added that the effect of the unresolved issue, on the telecommunications sector was taken into consideration. Echono, had told the committee that the N330 billion settlement reached with MTN had the approval of the highest office of government.
According to Echono;
“I am in a position to confirm to this committee that government has approved N330 billion as full and final settlement of fine impose on MTN by NCC. This was pursuant to series of procedural and other reviews, including the constitution of inter-ministerial committee under the auspices of the AGF.”
He said the case was in court and that the court directed that the parties should go into negotiation.The permanent secretary also said the seeming impasse on the matter, which was credited to the ongoing investigation by the committee, was not correct. Echono said:
“We were told that the action of the committee was independent of whatever action the executive arm may want to take on it.
“It is the need for finality for the closure of this impasse that has been on for long time and its general impact on the sector that the decision was taken. I can confirm that the decision has the blessing of the highest level of government.”
Fijabi said the representation of the minister could not be taken any further, as Shittu needs to appear in person to clarify several contradicting issues.