MTN pays a quarter of N330 billion fine by Nigerian govt

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South African telecoms giant, MTN, has paid about a quarter of its $1.7 billion fine for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards in Nigeria, officials said Friday.

MTN Nigeria office

In an interview with AFP, Tony Ojobo, spokesperson of the Nigeria Communication Commission, NCC, said, “MTN has paid N30bn ($98m, 92 million euros) as part of the fine.”

“The payment is in furtherance of the agreed timetable for payment of the total fine,” Mr. Ojobo added.

He said MTN had already paid N80 billon of the total fine of N330 billion.

The NCC spokesperson said MTN was expected to pay the next tranche of the fine “based on the payment schedule agreed by the two parties.”

In October 2015, MTN was initially hit with a $5.2 billion fine for failing to cut off 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards as requested by the Nigerian government.

Security was cited as being behind the move, over fears that Boko Haram terrorists were using unregistered SIMs to plan and execute attacks in the remote northeast.

Violence by the jihadist group has left about 100,000 dead and forced more than 2.6 million people from their homes since 2009.

But in December 2015, the fine was reduced to $3.4 billion, then cut further in June 2016 to $1.7 billion, which at the time was equivalent to N330 billion.

The payment is staggered over three years.

The Johannesburg-based firm, which is the largest mobile provider in Nigeria, threatened to pull out of the country during the SIM card row, before the fine was reduced.

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