Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says he is not in talks with MTN over the $5.2 billion fine slammed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, said this in a telephone chat with our correspondent yesterday. Osinbajo has shares in MTN Nigeria, according to details of his assets declaration released early September.
MTN had said yesterday that it was in talks with the Nigerian presidency, internal security agency and the communications regulator about the fine imposed on it for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers and other users with incomplete registration.
“The Office of the Vice President is not in talks with MTN over the issue. If there is any talks at all with the MTN, I guess the executive body of the government that is responsible is the NCC,” the spokesman of the vice president said.
A delegation of MTN officials from the company’s headquarters in South Africa, led by the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Sifiso Dabengwa, is said to be in Nigeria to plead for a lower penalty. NCC gave MTN until November 16 to pay the fine.
An NCC official confirmed that the MTN delegation from South Africa is in the country.
He said, “I can confirm to you that, yes, the MTN big guns are in the country. They have been in touch with us though we are yet to meet officially. We have told you we are not directly in charge of this case again. The office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has taken over. Coming to us may not bring out anything meaningful for them.
Yes, they are putting pressure on us, but we are not going to yield to it…We are not ruling out any diplomatic settlement. We believe the Presidency has the final say.”
Meanwhile, MTN’s shares in Johannesburg had fallen by about 25% since the fine was announced on Monday last week, wiping about 60bn rand (£2.7bn) off its market value, with the company now worth about £13bn.The stock was down 5.5% after trading recommenced following the company’s announcement that it was in talks with Nigerian authorities about reducing the fine.
Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market, with over 62 million subscribers according to latest NCC operator data. This represents about 43% of the 146,486,786 strong market at the end of second quarter.