Abuja - Federal Government has denied allegations it intended to destabilize MTN Nigeria, the mobile network firm that has been slapped with a hefty fine for contravening registration directives.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said this was not government’s intention, highlighting the firm was a major contributor to Nigeria’s economy.
Making this position known to the House Committee on Communications and Information Technology at the National Assembly, he said the company was a major employer.
He thus defended the US$5.2 billion fine Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) slammed on MTN last year after the operator failed to register over 5 million supporters.
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“What is imperative is to ensure that corporate bodies operate within the scope of the prevailing regulations and respect the laws of the land within which they operate,” Malami said.
He explained that the case of MTN did not border on criminality but non-compliance with laws and regulations.
“It is my constitutional responsibility to ensure that laws of the federation are respected and the interest of the business communities protected,” he further said.
“I’m not unmindful that Nigeria is looking for foreign investors, neither unmindful of the fact that many Nigerians are on the employment of MTN.
But my major concern is to ensure that the laws of the land are respected.”
Critics had argued the fine imposed on MTN was a ploy to scare MTN off Nigeria, where it has the biggest market share.
There have been suggestions this is linked to the sometimes frosty relations between South Africa, where the company is headquartered, and Nigeria.
- CAJ News