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Nigeria suspends MTN penalty negotiations

Nigeria has suspended its ongoing discussions with MTN over the operator’s $3.9 billion fine pending the results of an investigation by a committee of its House of Representatives.

Victor Oluwadamilare of the Nigerian ministry for communications confirmed that the authorities had “set up a committee to investigate the MTN saga and they are still on it… until they are through with it, nothing can be done.”

MTN was issued with a fine of $5.2 billion in October 2015 by the Nigerian Communications Commission for failing to comply with security regulation that required it to disconnect unregistered SIMs. In March, the operator offered to pay $1.5 billion of the total penalty, which was later reduced to $3.9 billion.

While the committee’s investigation into the penalty continues, Oluwadamilare noted that the NCC, the ministry of communications and the federal government “can do nothing”, observing that “there’s no point dealing with a particular organisation from different fronts. It would be counter-productive.”

The operator installed its former CEO Phuthuma Nhleko on a six-month contract after previous CEO Sifiso Dabengwa resigned as a result of the huge fine. While this period is now up, Nhleko is remaining in his current position while the operator attempts to resolve the penalty situation while simultaneously searching for a new CEO.

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