N1.4 trillion fine: FG asks court to dismiss MTN’s case

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Mobile telephony company, MTN, had been slapped with a fine of N1.4 trillion by the regulator Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to deactivate unregistered subscribers from its network. Following pleas and dialogue, the fine was reduced to N780bn.

The deadline for the payment of the fine was slated for December 31.

But no sooner had the fine been reduced than MTN went to court, challenging the powers of the NCC to impose the fine, the severity of the fine and the period of time given to pay the fine.

With more than half a dozen SANs on its team, MTN asked the federal high court in Lagos to quash the fine after determining whether the NCC could act pursuant to Section 70 of the NCC Act to impose a fine on it without breaching the provisions of sections 1 (3), 4 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution.

MTN said the NCC violated its fundamental right to fair hearing and that by imposing the fine, NCC was usurping “the exclusive legislative powers of the National Assembly, as well as the judicial powers of the courts established under the constitution.”

MTN also considers the N200,000 imposed per unregistered phone line as excessive and the highest ever fine slammed on any telecommunications company in the world.

But in a motion on notice filed through its lawyers Ahmed Raji (SAN), and Mahmud Magaji (SAN), NCC asked the court to dismiss the suit for want of jurisdiction or send it to Abuja.

The regulator contended that the suit was wrongly filed in Lagos, noting that the subject of the dispute took place in Abuja, while the two respondents in the suit, NCC and the Attorney General of the Federation, were also based in Abuja.

NCC urged the court to void the service of court processes on it, arguing that the company failed to comply with Section 143 of the NCC Act in serving the processes.

The regulator is praying the court to either dismiss the suit or transfer it to the Abuja division of the court.

Expect a long drawn legal battle after the deadline for the payment of the fine elapses on Thursday

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