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N1.04trn MTN fine: Attorney-General, Accountant-General in Secret Deals to Shortchange Nigeria – Senator Nnaji

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Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Gilbert Nnaji on Thursday at plenary revealed that the Committee has discovered in the course of its investigation into a fine of N1.04trillion slammed at the South African tele-communication giant, MTN, that the Attorney-General and the Accountant-General of the Federation have secretly struck a deal with a view to shortchanging the nation.

Raising a motion of urgent national importance through Order 42 and 52 on the floor, Nnaji lamented that section 19 and 20 of 2011 Act of Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has been blatantly breached, since it was not within their powers to reduce the fine without involving appropriate agency of government.

“Senate President, Distinguished Colleagues, recall that the section of the Act of NCC 2011 as quoted does not permit the regulator, or any government agencies to reduce a dine,” he said.

He explained that the fine which was as a result of MTN’s failure to deactivate about 5.2million unregistered subscribers was initially reduced from N1.04trillion to N780billion while expressing regret that these public officers of government have held private meetings with MTN to go out of their way to reduce the amount to N330billion without the input of the NCC.

“Actions taken by these officers have whittled down powers of the NCC with a negative impression of a weakling statutes where any individual or firms can take the nation for granted,” he submitted.

Worried by claims and counter claims by MTN of what they have paid, he revealed that the Committee discovered that about N50billion, part of the fine which was paid by MTN was lodged in the recovery account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as if it was a recovered stolen loot instead of a dedicated account of Nigeria Communications Commission in the TSA.

Nnaji noted that the Committee was also worried by the overbearing personal interest of these officers of government that tends to compromise revenues that accrued to the government treasury especially at a time that the nation is passing through financial difficulties.

In his ruling, the Senate President urged the Committee on Communications to summon those officers and report back to the Senate in two weeks time.

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