Last year, the Nigerian Communications Commission slapped MTN, the biggest telco in Nigeria with a multi-Billion dollar fine. MTN is a South African telco with a presence in many markets in the continent with Nigeria as one of its biggest markets. South African president Jacob Zuma is currently in Nigeria for a state visit and during a joint press conference between the Presidents of Nigeria and South Africa, the MTN issue came up.
During the press conference, Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari spoke about the issue for the first time stating that MTN’s failure to disconnect lines used by Islamist group Boko Haram led to the fine. Buhari stated that over 10,000 Nigerian citizens died between 2009-2015 due to Boko Haram attacks and MTN contributed to the casualties owing to the slow action on unregistered sim cards used by the group. According to NCC, MTN failed to register 5 Million of its 62 million customers leading to the $3.4 Billion fine. Buhari also stated the concern for the Nigerian government was security and not the amount imposed in fines.
President Zuma did not comment on the issue but pundits have argued the huge fine may discourage foreign investment in Nigeria. A High Court in Nigeria adjourned a case, where MTN is challenging the legality of the fine till 18th March 2016 to allow the two parties settle the case. If the parties fail to agree, the hearing will then proceed on the stated date.