N1.04 Trillion Fine: NCC Ready For Talks With MTN- Danbatta

The executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Garba Danbatta has confirmed that the Commission would soon began discussion with MTN for an out-of-court settlement over the N1.04 trillion fine imposed on MTN for not deactivating 5.1 million unregistered subscribers.
Speaking Lagos yesterday in his first world press conference, Danbatta, said NCC’s lawyers on Tuesday evening officially communicated to the telecommunications regulator the decision of  Justice Mohammed Idris, the presiding judge handling the suit instituted by MTN against NCC to grant both parties 60 days leave to discuss for an out-of-court settlement.
 “I have been reliably informed by our counsel handling case that MTN wants to resolve this matter out of court. This information came to the fore after the minister made a statement that he is not aware of any out-of-the-court settlement plan. Our lawyers yesterday evening informed us through a letter that MTN wants to settle out of court.
“The intention is not to kill MTN. We would like the industry to continue. We would like it to be vibrant and I think this is a matter that needs to be resolved amicably and we are working towards that,” Danbatta said. The statement by the NCC boss has reduced the tension generated by the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu’s statement early this week. Shittu had ruffled feathers few days ago by calling on MTN to withdraw its case against NCC from the court if it wants discuss with the regulator.
“If they withdraw it creates a better environment, an environment where there is no stress or pressure on either side,” said the minister. NCC had in October 2015 penalised MTN for flouting Sections19 and 20 of the SIM Registration Regulations 2011which prescribed imposition of penalties of N200, 000 per improperly registered SIM card.
The telecom regulator fined MTN for not complying with its directives and that of the security agencies on deactivation of unregistered simcards while other operators like Globacom, Etisalat and Airtel complied forthrightly because of the security implications.
MTN only made a partial attempt to bar unregistered subscribers in selected areas over a few days in September 2015. On Thursday October 22nd, 2015, NCC reviewed the registration records of all the telecom operators and took into consideration their compliance records, imposed a fine of N1.04 trillion on MTN alone for noncompliance on SIM registration.
Danbatta Unveils 8 Point Agenda
Meanwhile, the NCC boss has unveiled an eight agenda that will guide his administration within the next five years. He said the new vision is in line with the President Muhammadu Buhari’s change mantra. The agenda will “promote innovation, investment, competition and consumer empowerment in and on top of communications platforms of today and the future.
“It will maximise the power of information and communications technology to grow our economy, create jobs, and enhance national competitiveness through the deployment of broadband infrastructure to facilitate roll out of broadband services that will hold out opportunities and higher network quality of services for all Nigerians” he said.
Danbatta said the eight-point pillars rest on a tripod of “A”s which include Availability of service, Accessibility of service and Affordability of service in line with the Buhari change agenda, an ideological shift in creation of structures for social benefits and inclusiveness for national development.
According to the NCC boss eight-point agenda, the regulator will facilitate broadband penetration through provision and optimisation access to and use of affordable fixed and mobile broadband in Nigeria; improve quality of service by promoting the availability of reliable, interoperable, rapidly restorable critical ICT infrastructure that are supportive of all required services.
Others include optimise usage and benefits of spectrum by maximising availability of spectrum in order to provide diverse and affordable ICT services and ensuring that spectrum acquisition does not distort  marketing competition; and promote ICT innovation and investment opportunities.
It also include facilitation of strategic collaboration and partnership with relevant stakeholders to foster ICT for sustainable economic development and social advancement; protect and empower consumers from unfair practices through availability of information and education required to make informed choices in the use of ICT services.
The rest of the agenda are to promote fair competition and inclusive growth by creating a competitive market for ICT services that foster fair inclusion of all actors in innovative ways that facilitate new investment, job creation and consumer satisfaction; and ensure regulator excellence and operational efficiency.

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