2017 Budget: FG Targets N565bn From Recovered Loot, MTN Fine

The Federal Government hopes to raise a total of N565bn from recovered loot and fines to be paid by MTN Nigeria to fund the 2017 budget.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, explained on Monday in Abuja during the public presentation of the 2017 budget breakdown that the disruptions to oil production and falling crude prices had made it impossible for the government to meet majority of its revenue projections.

The event was attended by the ministers of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole; Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh; Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; and Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, among others.

Providing useful insights into how the looted funds would be recovered and used, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, said that N288.6bn out of the N565bn would come from recovered looted funds.

He said, “With respect to the looted funds for the revenue profile in the 2017 budget, it is a total of N288.6bn. This includes N97.6bn, which is the naira equivalent of $320m expected from the Swiss (government), which is part of what was recovered from the Abacha loot.

“It also includes N72bn that has already been received in cash from cases of recoveries and the balance of N90bn is from other expected recoveries, which are at an advanced stage and we feel comfortable and confident that they will come through in 2017 and have to be reflected in the budget.”

The Nigerian Communications Commission had in October 2015 fined MTN N1.04tn for selling over five million unregistered SIM cards.

The fine was later reduced to N330bn, out of which MTN has paid N50bn to the government. The balance of N280bn will be paid in six tranches over a period of three years.

The persistent attacks on oil installations by militants in the Niger Delta and the harsh operating climate resulting in low tax receipts from companies, according to Udoma, dealt a huge blow on the government’s revenue in the first nine months of this year.

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Why FG Accepted N50bn Down Payment From MTN —AGF

The Federal Government, yesterday, cleared the air on why it accepted N50 billion down payment of the N780 billion fine the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, slammed on MTN.


The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said that the money was accepted from MTN as a demonstration of good faith and willingness to enter into discussion with the government on the payment of the fine imposed on the firm.


The minister, who confirmed that the telecoms company had withdrawn the case it instituted against the Federal Government, further affirmed that the two sides were ready for dialogue.


Malami said that unknown to many, the government had insisted that the company paid a reasonable part of the fine before it could open discussion with it.


“It was after we had confirmed that the company had deposited the N50 billion in a Federal Government recovery account that we granted them audience over the matter. I can also confirm that the case the company instituted against us has been withdrawn. “The meaning of what has been done is that we have agreed to grant them audience. The matter is being considered and whatever is to be done will be made known to Nigerians and will be done in the overall interest of the country and nothing more,” Malami said.


The minister spoke just as the Senate summoned him to explain the decision to allow MTN to pay what it considered ‘a paltry sum’ of the huge fine slammed on it into a Federal Government recovery account, thereby sidelining the NCC.


But Malami made it clear that there was no underhand deal in relation to the ongoing discussion between the Federal Government and MTN. The minister said whatever was to be done would be guided by public policy and public interest.



Credit : Vanguard

FG To Investigate MTN’s Payment Claim – Shittu

The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, on Wednesday, said the ministry would investigate the claim by South African mobile telecommunication giant, MTN that it has paid 50 billion naira into government’s coffers towards a possible settlement of the dispute with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The minister also said the firm’s claim that it has withdrawn the matter from the court is being investigated by the government.

The Special Assistant on Media Affairs to the Minister, Mr. Victor Oluwadamilare, told The Nation that government’s position on the matter has been made clear, but MTN went to court for reasons best known to it.

He said: “Government’s position on the issue is sacrosanct, MTN secured 25 percent reduction on the fine imposed by the regulatory body. Suddenly, it proceeded to court to challenge the government. Now we are told they have withdrawn the case from court and have paid 50 billion naira to the government.

“Well, I can tell you on behalf of the Minister of Communications and Technology that we are studying the situation. If it is confirmed that they have withdrawn the case from court and have paid the said amount, then the government would make its position known on the matter.”

NCC vs MTN: Court Fixes March 3 For Ruling

A Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed March 3 to decide whether or not it will try MTN Nigeria and its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ferdi Moolman, for alleged copyright infringement.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba fixed the date at the Thursday hearing in a charge filed against MTN and Moolman over alleged infringement on copies of the musical works of an Abuja based musician, Dovie Omenuwoma-Eniwo (a.k.a. Baba 2010).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), last year, filed the two-count-charge against MTN and Moolman, sequel to a petition filed by Baba 2010.
However, following a report of settlement between MTN and Baba 2010 over the infringement, their lawyers Mena Ajakpoui and Rockson Igelige had respectively asked for the withdrawal of the charge by NCC.
Lawyer to NCC and the commission’s Director of Prosecution, Mr Abdul-Ter Kohol, however said that the crime had been committed and the restitution provided by the alleged offenders (MTN and Moolman) was not a barrier to their prosecution.
The court therefore adjourned to decide whether or not the compensation paid to Baba 2010 by the accused persons over the alleged infringement was adequate to stop NCC from prosecuting MTN and Moolman.
NAN reports that at the hearing of the case, Igelige moved an application seeking the court order permitting his client (Baba 2010) to withdraw his complaint against the accused persons (MTN and Moolman).
He contended that he filed a civil suit against MTN in another Federal High Court upon which his client amicably and satisfactorily settled with MTN.
He said the NCC did not inform his client before going ahead to file the criminal charge against MTN and its CEO.
Igelige also argued that he did not make any complaint against Moolman, the second accused person in the petition written to NCC.
He argued that with the combined reading of sections 17, 355 (1) and 494 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, his client has the right to withdraw his complaint which would in turn terminate the trial.
Kohol opposed the application contending that “it is misconceived, frivolous and not known to law’’.
He said besides the fact that the applicant did not seek the leave of court before filing the application the statutory parties to criminal trial are the prosecution (NCC) and the accused (MTN Moolman).
The lawyer argued that the applicant, like any other informant of a prosecuting agency, could not withdraw a criminal charge he did not file in court.
Kohol said that section 24 of the NCC establishment Act permits for both criminal and civil actions to be filed and heard simultaneously in copyright infringement cases.
He therefore urged the court to hold that MTN and Moolman had already committed the crime and the restitution made to Baba 2010 cannot assuage their prosecution.




Buhari To Make ‘Final Decision’ On MTN Fine

President Muhammadu Buhari will make the final decision on a $3.9 billion fine on the mobile service provider, MTN, the telecommunications minister said on Tuesday.

Adebayo Shittu also told journalists that MTN might be advised to withdraw a court case filed against the fine.

“If they withdraw it creates a better environment, an environment where there is no stress or pressure on either side,” Reuters quoted the minister as saying on the fine imposed on the firm last year.

Credit: Nation

N1.4trn Fine: MTN Refuses To Pay, Set To Drag NCC To Court

South African telecoms giant MTN said Thursday it would launch a court challenge against the $3.9 billion fine that Nigeria has ordered it to pay by December 31 for failing to disconnect unregistered users.

MTN, in a statement to shareholders today, said it decided to take this route after exhausting all other options to have the fine reduced.

MTN said that “All factors having a bearing on the matter have been thoroughly and carefully considered, including a review of the circumstances leading to the fine and the subsequent letters received from the NCC.”

“MTN Nigeria, acting on legal advice, has resolved that the manner of the imposition of the fine and the quantum thereof is not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act and therefore there are valid grounds upon which to challenge the fine.”


Credit : Vanguard

MTN Nigeria CEO, Corporate Affairs Manager Resign

Telecommunications giant, MTN has announced the resignation of its Nigerian CEO, Michael Ikpoki.

Also, the head of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Akinwale Goodluck has also resigned.

Michael Ikpoki resigns as MTN CEO

Michael Ikpoki resigns as MTN CEO

The company said it was part of a new operating structure and senior management changes.

Wale Goodluck, Head of Corporate Affairs, MTN Nigeria

Wale Goodluck, Head of Corporate Affairs, MTN Nigeria

The telecommunication company said their resignation took effect from 1 December.



Their sudden resignations came at a time the company is trying to pay a $5.2 billion (R71 billion) fine imposed on the company by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over MTN Nigeria’s failure to register customers.
“MTN Nigeria’s CEO Michael Ikpoki and the head of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Akinwale Goodluck have tendered their resignations with immediate effect,” MTN informed investors on Thursday morning.

The mobile phone operator said Ikpoki would be replaced by Ferdi Moolman as MTN Nigeria CEO and Amina Oyagbola as its head of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs.


Moolman was previously CEO at MTN Irancell and most recently CEO at MTN Nigeria. A Nigerian national, Ms Oyagbola also retains the position of MTN Nigeria’s Head of Human Resources. She formerly headed regulatory affairs at the Nigerian operating company.


Credit : Daily Post

N1tn fine: Buhari’ll Decide MTN’s Fate, Says Minister

The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, said on Tuesday that President Muhammadu Buhari would decide MTN Nigeria’s fate regarding the N1.04tn fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission.


He stated that the President would take the final decision on the matter at the appropriate time and “in the public interest.”

The minister also said that Buhari’s decision would be on the basis that the “government and MTN are on the same page that rules had been broken in this instance.”


Shittu stated this on the sidelines of the Alliance 4 Affordable Internet Nigeria Coalition Conference in Lagos, according to an online publication, Technology Times.


“The issue is now before Mr. President. He will take the necessary decision at the appropriate time. I think Nigerians will expect that Mr. President would do the best to ensure that the public interest is guaranteed,” he said.


The minister dismissed reports that the government was negotiating with the MTN Group and was considering slashing the fine, saying there was no conflicting position on where the government stood on the matter.

Shittu noted, “Recall that there were violations, which were established against MTN. The violations were to the tune of five million (unregistered SIM cards). That is a whole lot.

“There are many countries where subscribers are not up to half of five million. In the case of Nigeria, we had more than five million violations. The good thing is that MTN did not contest the fact that they had violated the regulations and guidelines. They never contested it. They admitted they were at fault.

“They apologised for their role in the saga and they made a commitment that what happened would never happen again. And of course, they made a plea for the review of the payment terms.”


Credit : Punch

More Troubles For MTN As Uganda Fines Telco $622,000

It is not only in Nigeria that MTN has run foul of the rules. It is also in hot water in Uganda, going by this report by Uganda’s New Vision newspaper:


The Commercial court in Uganda has ordered telecom giant, MTN Uganda to pay a sum of Shs 2.3bn (about $662,000) in damages to EzeeMoney Limited for sabotaging its business.


Justice Henry Peter Adonyo on November 6, 2015 also ordered MTN to stop acting in unlawful and anti-competitive manner, which denies other businesses an opportunity to prosper.


Justice Adonyo said MTN should pay Shs 800m to EzeeMoney in general damages for loss of business. It should also pay a penalty of Shs 1.5bn in punitive damages to deter not only MTN but also warn other companies against uncompetitive business tactics.


It all started when EzeeMoney, which runs an e-money business, obtained a contract from MTN for the provision of digital transmission [E1] and 30 fixed telephone lines to carry out its mobile money business.


EzeeMoney then contracted Yo! Uganda Limited (YUL) to implement the service after Uganda Communications Commission, the regulator, approved it on December 2012, to use the 7711 short code to enable its customers to subscribe for e-money services.


But in 2013, MTN cancelled the contract, saying EzeeMoney was a direct competitor to its mobile money business. Through AF Mpanga and company advocates, EzeeMoney went to court, saying MTN’s action “restricted and distorted competition.”


EzeeMoney said MTN also damaged its ties with YUL and deprived it of services of other telecommunications operators. It argued that MTN used its exclusivity agreements to stop its agents from working for any other firm with similar business, further limiting competition.




In a January 28, 2013 letter to EzeeMoney, MTN appeared to say its business would be disrupted if the former was given access to its platform.


“EzeeMoney is in direct competition with MTN in the provision of mobile money,” read the letter in part.


Justice Adonyo said the letter confirmed that MTN was stopping services of the company because it considered it a competitor.


“It is testified that when YUL required the defendant [MTN] to activate the plaintiff’s [EzeeMoney]short code on its platform, the defendant declined to do so on the basis that the plaintiff was in direct competition with it,” the judge observed.


“YUL then seeing that the plaintiff couldn’t carry out the business they had agreed together, by a letter dated 7/2/2013, did terminate all services with the plaintiff as YUL did not want to jeopardize its relationship with the defendant.”


David Mpanga, EzeeMoney’s lead counsel, said MTN’s action of not activating the short code and the subsequent cancellation by YUL led to loss of business.
“The denial of the use of the defendant’s [MTN] platform to the plaintiff [EzeeMoney] by the defendant would thus be an act which is prohibited within the meaning of section 53(1) (a) of the Act [Communications] for it limited competition,” Adonyo said.



The judge also found that MTN coerced its agents to reject EzeeMoney. One witness, Sammy Mwathi, told court that he was an MTN money agent and he was restricted from dealing with other firms in the same business by signing exclusivity agreement.


“The perusal of the exclusivity agreement itself confirms the position that the defendant acted outside the law for it appears it used coercive methods like denial of services to its agents,” he said. “[This] prohibited fair competition… and [was] contrary to the provisions of the law.”


Credit : Uganda’s New Vision newspaper, PM News

Presidency To Decide On MTN Fine

Owing to the absence of a board and concerns over national security, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is awaiting the directive of presidency on whether to insist on the payment of the N1.04 trillion ($5.2 billion) it imposed on MTN Nigeria, accept staggered payments as offered by the firm, or reduce the fine all together.

This is just as the network operator’s parent company in South Africa – MTN Group – announced  monday that it had secured more time to negotiate the fine that has shaved almost a quarter of the market value from Africa’s biggest mobile phone company in the past three weeks.

“Shareholders are advised that the Nigerian authorities have, without prejudice, agreed that the imposed fine will not be payable until the negotiations have been concluded,” MTN said in a statement from Johannesburg monday.

NCC had previously set a deadline of November 16 for settlement of the penalty.
It imposed the levy on MTN for failing to meet a deadline to disconnect 5.2 million unregistered subscribers earlier this year.

Credit: ThisDay