Abuja - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has justified the N1,04 trillion sanction imposed on MTN Nigeria.
The Commission's Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, said they acted "in the interest of the public" which has been suffering security challenges.
He said the fine was a result of violation of Section 20(1) of the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulation of 2011.
It states that, “Any licensee who activates or fails to deactivate a subscription medium in violation of any provision of these Regulations is liable to a penalty of N200 000 for each unregistered but activated subscription medium.”
“The fine of N1.04Trillion on MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was done in the interest of the public which has been at the receiving end of security challenges,” Ojobo said.
He added that there is "overwhelming evidence" of non-compliance and "obvious disregard to the rule of engagement" by MTN.
Thus, Ojobo said, NCC had no choice but to impose the sanctions.
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Ojobo said MTN, in a letter dated November 2, 2015 admitted the infraction and pleaded for leniency.
“The Commission has acknowledged this and is looking into their plea without any prejudice to the fine," he said.
"The fine remains but the appeal and other engagements with MTN may affect the payment deadline,” he said.
Ojobo pointed out the fine imposed on MTN was the second within two months after the operators were given a seven-day ultimatum to deactivate all unregistered and improperly registered Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards.
"Others complied and MTN did not."
Ojobo reminded that in August 4, at a meeting of all the representatives of the mobile network operators, major security challenges through preregistered, unregistered and improperly registered SIM Cards topped the agenda.
Then, operators were given the ultimatum to deactivate such within seven days from August 4.
Ojobo said on August 14, three days after the ultimatum expired, NCC carried out a network audit.
"While other operators complied with the directive, to deactivate the improperly registered SIM Cards, MTN showed no sign of compliance at all,” Ojobo said.
He said four operators MTN, Airtel, Globacom and Etisalat, were sanctioned in August for non-compliance of the directive to deactivate the improperly registered SIM Cards.
MTN was fined of N102,2 million, Globacom N7,4 million, Etisalat N7 million and Airtel N3,8 million.
"Others complied while MTN flouted the fine,” Ojobo said.
Also Read: NCC reviews deadline for MTN's fine
He said the commission on its part has a statutory responsibility to monitor and enforce compliance to the rules especially when national security is at stake.
“As a responsible Regulator, the NCC will not stand by and watch Rules and Regulations for Engagement being flouted by any operator.”
Ojobo added that the Commission had adopted a "smart regulation" in its oversight function in the industry and weighed the implications of sanctions that is why it had to place the appropriate sanction accordingly.
He said sanctions were the last resort after all overtures failed.
"But this does not in any way undermine industry standards and the interest of investors."
- CAJ News