$3.9bn Fine: MTN Sues NCC, Hires Seven Senior Advocates
THE telecommunication giant, MTN has filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos challenging the $3.9billion sanction imposed on it by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).
Sued alongside the NCC is the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), and Minister of Justice.
The firm is urging the court to quash the fine which NCC had imposed on them last October for allegedly failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers.
The initial fine of $5.2billion was reduced by 25 per cent to $3.9billion earlier this month, with a payment deadline set for December 31.
But MTN through its team of lawyers comprising Chief Wole Olanipekun, Tanimola Molajo, A.B, Mahmoud , Dr. Gbolahan Elias, Oladipo Okpeseyi, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu, Dr. Oladapo Olanipekun (all senior advocates) through an originating summons, is challenging the powers of NCC to impose such a fine on it.
The telecoms company argued that on the basis that NCC being a regulator, cannot assume all the functions of the state on its own, considering the fact that they made the regulation, prescribed the penalty and imposed the fine, payable to the commission and not the federal government.
The firm also alleged that it was not afforded its constitutional right of fair hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction and more importantly, it had not been found guilty of any offence that will warrant it to pay such outrageous fine.
It contended that the sanction imposed on it by NCC was within 24 hours of its written submission on the disconnection exercise and the impractical nature of the NCC deadline.
Stating that the deadline of seven days to disconnect 5.2 million subscribers was grossly inadequate and impracticable, the telecoms company said the deadline to disconnect 5,200,000 subscribers was unfair and ran contrary to the requirement to give adequate notice to the subscribers and all operators.
It accused the regulatory agency of acting as a legislator, executor, accuser, prosecutor, judge and beneficiary of the penalty imposed and that the sanction (N200,000 per SIM) imposed on it was excessive.