MTN N1.04 trn fine: Ministers shun Reps meeting again

The ongoing probe by the House of Representatives Committee on Communications into the rationale behind the reduction of the N1.04 trillion fine slammed on the GSM Communication, the MTN Nigeria by the National Communication (NCC)  to N330 billion on Monday, stalled again.

This followed the absence of  the Minster of  Communications, Alhaji  Adebayo Shittu; the Minister of  Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, which forced Honourable Saheed Akinade-Fijabi Committee on Communications to halt the proceeding abruptly the fifth  time without any headway.

While Malami sent a letter that he would be representing the president at an event in Lagos and would, therefore, be absent from the meeting, his counterpart, the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu did not show up nor sent representative.

Only the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Mr Abubakar Dambata and his Director of Communications, Tony Ojobo, were present at the session.

The committee chairman, Akinade-Fijabi, who expressed disappointment on the absence of the two ministers  queried  the rationale  behind the huge reduction on the fine from N1. 04 trillion to N330 billion unilaterally by the executive arm of government, while the two chambers of the National Assembly were still investigating the matter.

While pointing out the condition attached to the reduction that MTN trades on the Nigerian Stock Market was a business benefit to the company, he declared “I don’t think NCC alone can face the questions. This is going to be the last meeting as the parties are not here.”

The lawmaker, before dissolving into an executive session, stated the committee would go ahead with the writing of its report and subsequently submit it to the House for further legislative action.

It will be recalled that the committee had earlier rejected the offer by the service by the MTN to pay N330 billion instead of the N1.04 trillion it was fined by the Federal Government.

Fijabi had wondered why the sudden shift in the position of the NCC on the MTN fine.

However, efforts by the committee to investigate the reason for the huge reduction had failed due to the absence of one government official or the other at the different meetings it had called on the issue.