Reps To Clash With AGF? Over N1.04trn MTN Fine ‘Reduction’ | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Reps To Clash With AGF? Over N1.04trn MTN Fine ‘Reduction’

Posted: Mar 24, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)



Ahmed Musa ABUJA


The House of Representatives may be set on a collision course with the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, over the reduction of the fine handed down to telecom giant, MTN Nigeria, by the regulatory body, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The reason, according to the House on Wednesday plenary, is that the AGF has no powers to negotiate a reduction of the N1.04 trillion fine imposed on the company by NCC for violating sections 19 and 20 of the registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulation, 2011.

Based on this, the House has resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate where the AGF derived the power to negotiate a reduction of the fine from and if he is not usurping the powers of the legislature.

The ad hoc committee, according to the resolution, will also investigate to see if the NCC as a regulator also has the power under the law to reduce the fine which under sections 19 and 30 of the law is fixed, and if this does not amount to amending the law without recourse to the legislature.

The resolutions followed a motion sponsored by a member, Hon. Ehiozowa Joseph Agbonayinma, on the floor at plenary on Wednesday.

The lawmaker while presenting the motion said: “MTN ought to have been fined under both sections 19 and Section 20, respectively, with cumulative penalty of N3.120 trillion and not the N1.04 trillion which is a gross violation of the combined reading of both sections 19 and Section 20 of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Act”.

He argued that the action of MTN has resulted in the loss of lives of many Nigerians, and that the way the organisation behaved to the communications committee investigating the issue is unacceptable.

He prayed the House to “mandate the committee on telecommunications to investigate the extent to which the non-compliance by MTN to the provisions of the law allegedly led to the death of over 10,000 Nigerians and whether MTN can escape criminal liability under the law by merely paying fines no matter how punitive the fine may be”.

Both the majority leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the minority leader, Leo Ogor, were among members who spoke in support of the motion.

Gbajabiamila challenged the legality of the recovery fund into which MTN’s N50 billon was paid into. He opined that it violates section 80 of the constitution that says all monies accruing to the country must be paid into the consolidated revenue fund.

Ogor said the principle of separation of powers is being violated by the action of the AGF, adding that negotiating a fine fixed by law is an amendment which is vested in the parliament.

The Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara opined that the fine given to MTN is fixed by law and no authority can reduce it unless the law is amended by the parliament.

He, therefore, announced the constitution of the ad hoc committee to further investigate the matter and report back to the House.