The Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, has cleared the air over the controversy trailing the role of the Ministry in the out-of-court settlement by MTN Nigeria, and its payment of N50 billion to the Federal Government.
The Minister noted that there is no controversy whatsoever about the expected role of Ministries over its agencies and parastatals, and that the Ministry of Communications could not have been an exception, adding that the Ministry statutorily has supervisory role over its agencies, including the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).
In a statement released on Wednesday by the Minister’s Special Assistant on Media, Victor Oluwadamilare, he described as strange and curious, a report by a section of the Nigerian media that Nigerian Government sidelined its own regulator, NCC by striking a secret deal with MTN.
Contrary to the reports, the statement noted that there was no negotiation of any kind by the Communications Minister and MTN over the fine regime imposed on it by the NCC.
Rather, it pointed out that the whole theatrics of going to Court, ostensibly to buy time and escape the December 31, 2015 deadline, wanting an out-of-court settlement and the eventual payment of N50 billion as down payment, were all decisions freely taken by MTN without any prompting from Barrister Adebayo Shittu.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government is to commence a fresh talks with MTN Nigeria to settle the dispute over the $3.9 billion fine, as according to the communications minister, the final decision on the matter now rests with President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is now for government to meet with them and conclude negotiations,” he said.
It will be recalled that MTN had last week withdrawn its lawsuit against Nigeria over the fine by NCC totaling N1.04 trillion.
MTN was fined for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM users and has paid $250 million towards a settlement.