South Africa-based regional operator MTN Group has announced that its Nigerian mobile unit has withdrawn its lawsuit against the local telecoms regulator and has made a ‘good faith payment’ of NGN50 billion (USD250 million) to the federal government with a view to reaching a possible settlement. In January the Federal High Court in Lagos adjourned MTN Group’s legal challenge of a NGN780 billion fine MTN Nigeria received from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) until 18 March 2016, in order to enable the parties to try and settle the matter out of court. ‘Pursuant to the ongoing engagement with the Nigerian authorities, MTN Nigeria has today made an agreed without prejudice good faith payment of NGN50 billion to the federal government of Nigeria on the basis that this will be applied towards a settlement, where one is eventually, hopefully arrived at,’ the South African telecoms group announced in a statement published yesterday on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. It adds that Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN Group executive chairman and director of MTN Nigeria, is continuing to lead the team engaging the Nigerian authorities with a view to settling the matter.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in December last year MTN said it would challenge the fine it received from the NCC in October for failing to meet a deadline to disconnect around 5.1 million unregistered subscribers. The NCC had earlier reduced the NGN1.04 trillion fine by 25% to NGN780 billion, giving MTN until 31 December 2015 to pay the penalty.