Written by Sarah NEGEDU

$5.2b fine: MTN engages ex-U.S attorney general against NCC

Telecommunications giant, MTN Nigeria, has employed the services of the immediate past Attorney General of the United States, Mr. Eric Holder, in its $5.2billion legal battle with Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.

The tussle between the Nigerian government and the South African company took a new dimension penultimate week, when the Minister of Communication, Alh. Adebayo Shittu, denied knowledge of an out of court settlement with MTN as was earlier reported.

The 65 year old attorney and Columbia university trained lawyer is known for negotiating lower fines for corporate offenses while in public office and has continued this as partner at the international defense firm Covington & Burling.

The Associated Press, AP, recently quoted NCC spokesman Tony Ojobo to have said that Holder “is leading MTN’s legal team” challenging the fine.

NCC had in October 2015, slapped a $5.2 billion fine on the telecommunications company for failing to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards before the August 2015 deadline after series of memos on the matter from the NCC. Each sim affected card attracted a N200, 000 fine.

The NCC had reduced the fine to $3.9 billion but it did not stop MTN from challenging the fine in court. The telecoms firm had maintained that it went to court as a last resort but it would continue to seek an amicable end to the issue.

A Federal High Court in Lagos, at the last seating in January, adjourned MTN’s suit till March 18, following a request by MTN for more time to pursue an out of court settlement.

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