Law News
Court refuses to stop MTN from paying N1.4tn fine

A Federal High Court in Lagos has declined granting an order stopping the telecommunications company, MTN Nigeria Limited, from paying a fine of N1.4trn imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

Rather than make the interim order, Justice Mohammed Idris asked the applicant to put the defendants on notice.

The judge also abridged the hearing time and adjourned till November 19, 2015.

The applicant in the suit is a Lagos-based lawyer, Oluyinka Oyeniji, who sued on behalf of himself and other subscribers under the aegis of the Incorporated Trustees of National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers.

Joined as respondents in the suit were the NCC and MTN.

The plaintiffs filed the suit following imposition of N1.4tn fine on MTN by NCC over alleged non-compliance with a directive to deactivate the lines of all unregistered subscribers.

The plaintiffs, in their suit, however, claimed to be apprehensive that the NCC would give effect to its threat to deactivate their lines from Monday (today) if MTN did not pay the N1.4tn fine imposed on it.

Their lawyer, Mr. Yemi Salma, told Justice Idris that the plaintiffs have read about the threat in the ThisDay Newspaper.

The judge, however, refused to order MTN not to pay the fine, saying the court could not rely on a newspaper’s publication.

He ordered the plaintiffs to serve the court processes on the respondents outside of jurisdiction.

In their substantive suit, the plaintiffs are urging the court to declare that NCC had breached the provisions of the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations, 2011, which makes it the sole responsibility of NCC and not MTN to establish, maintain and monthly update subscribers’ registration as well as the central database.

They urged the court to declare that the N1.4trn fine imposed on MTN by NCC was illegal, unconstitutional, null and void “because NCC cannot unilaterally impose and/or exert any fine on a telecoms firm without a court’s order after conviction.”

The plaintiffs also sought an order mandating NCC to render documentary evidence of the accounts showing the fines imposed on MTN as well as other telecommunications operators, including their appropriation and disbursement from 2002 till date.

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