The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has confirmed the payment of the N30 billion fine paid by MTN.
According to NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, MTN has paid N30 billion ($98 million, 92 million euros) as part of the fine.
Ojobo said on telephone yesterday that a receipt has been issued to the telecommunications firm, “which confirms the payment.”
The General Manager, Corporate Affairs, at MTN Nigeria, Omasan Ogisi, told The Guardian that payment was made before yesterday, “and we have been issued receipt.”
MTN, Nigeria’s largest mobile operator, was initially fined $5.2 billion (N1.04 trillion) in 2015 for failing to deactivate over five million unregistered Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards, some of which were allegedly linked to the Boko Haram insurgents.
The severity of the penalty was to serve as a deterrent to other service providers, whose action or inaction undermine the precarious security situation in the country.
But following a series of interventions and negotiations, which lasted about six months, including a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, in March last year in Nigeria, the fine was reduced to N780 billion, and later N330 billion.
With the confirmation of the payment of N30 billion fine, the South African telecommunications firm has now paid N110 billion.
Government had confirmed the earlier payment of N80 billion to its coffers as at December last year as part of the fine, which has been staggered till 2019.
Specifically, the amount paid earlier before the new N30 billion, included the “goodwill” payment of N50 billion in December 2015 and another N30 billion on June 10, last year.
Other tranches of the payment include that by March 31, 2018, MTN would pay another N55 billion; N55 billion by December 31, 2018; N55 billion by March 31, 2019; and the balance of N55 billion on May 31, 2019.
The payments are expected to go into NCC’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
This is just as MTN denied claims of some of its number being used to take peoples’ lives.
There have been allegations that MTN numbers, 08030004900 and 08066699666, belong to some serial killers, which they have been using to take peoples lives when calls are received through them.
There are also claims that when calls are received through them, the receiver jumps into the Lagos Lagoon.
A message on WhatsApp read: “08030004600 and 08066699666: Warning: Do not pick any of these numbers. They are severe killer numbers, which was reported to have been killing people across the country. SAVE LIVES!”
But responding to The Guardian enquiry on the matter, MTN Nigeria Public Relations and Protocol Manager, Funso Aina, in an email, said: “Please, note that there is no truth to this story, as we have already communicated in all our social media channels.
“08030004900 was a telemarketing number, which is not in use at this time.”