Professor Umar Danbatta, the new chief of Nigeria’s telecoms industry watchdog, has approved punitive sanctions totaling one trillion and forty billion naira (N1.04 trillion) against MTN Nigeria, over alleged breach of SIM registration rules by the mobile phone company, Technology Times has authoritatively confirmed.
Technology Times checks reveal exclusively that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has ruled that MTN Nigeria, the nation’s biggest mobile phone operator by subscriber numbers, owned by South Africa’s MTN Group, be handed the biggest sanction ever witnessed in the Nigerian telecoms market.
MTN Nigeria will pay the landmark fine for allegedly undermining efforts by the Nigerian government to tackle security challenges and the war on terror and allied crimes, as the telecoms operator has allegedly refused to deactivate unregistered mobile phone lines on its network, NCC says.
People conversant with situation at the Abuja headquarters of NCC say the telecoms regulator reckon that MTN Nigeria’s alleged disobedience of earlier directives to deactivate unregistered mobile phone lines on its network significantly opened the country to grave security threats.
“They have disobeyed several directives issued them”, a source told Technology Times on condition of anonymity citing that a letter communicating the sanction has been dispatched to the Lagos-based MTN Nigeria.
In a phone conversation with Technology Times, a top official of MTN Nigeria, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, confirmed that the letter communicating the sanctions has been received by MTN Nigeria.
“We are in discussions with them”, the official said underscoring that talks are underway between the two parties to resolve the matter amicably.
Following the regulatory sanction, MTN Nigeria will be made to pay the sum of one trillion naira and forty billion, and may possibly face other sanction as the matter was also directed to the Directorate of State Security (DSS), Nigerian Army, and the Presidency, in what may suggest a broader spread of consequences for the telecoms company.
Technology Times sources reckon that by copying other security and law enforcement authorities in the country, there are fears of other consequences beyond the landmark punitive fines for the telecoms company.