NCC, ALTON seek out of court solution to MTN, CBN dispute

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…As Dogara defects, picks PDP forms***

Information and Communications Technology, ICT industry stakeholders, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators in Nigeria, ALTON, on Wednesday moved for amicable resolution of the dispute between telecom company, MTN Nigeria and the duo of Central Bank of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF.

The financial regulator had ordered MTN to refund $8.1 billion it allegedly repatriated from the country, through irregular certificates of capital importation, while the AGF had also alleged that MTN did not pay taxes on foreign payments and imports of approximately $2.0 billion and subsequently requested the telco to make the payments within 14 working days.

However, MTN had categorically denied all allegations, saying it has always complied with and carried out all its taxes and financial obligations to the Nigerian government, dutifully. In defence, the telecommunications company had gone to court, seeking injunctive relief restraining the CBN and the AGF from taking further action in respect of their orders, saying the action was to protect its assets and shareholder rights within the confines of the law.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), was yesterday quoted by Bloomberg as saying that it hopes for an amicable resolution between the Central Bank of Nigeria and MTN. The Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Prof Umar Danbatta was said to have made the assertion at the ongoing ITU Telecom World 2018 conference holding in Durban, South Africa According to Bloomberg, the EVC said: “Nigeria remains an attractive country for investors who crave for adequate Return on Investments (RoIs).

“The Nigerian Communications Commission is doing what it can to facilitate an amicable resolution of MTN’s standoff with the tax and finance regulators. “I am assuring you that we will soon have the matters settled amicably. We are talking and engaging with relevant authorities to have the matters settled” Back home, the Chairman of ALTON, Engr Gbenga Adebayo, told Vanguard that the EVC’s statement is in order even though the commission ought to have taken a proactive step before MTN went to court.

He urged the commission to step into the matter with same vitality that it did during the time some banks wanted to take over Etisalat now (9Mobile). According to Adebayo, “the industry does not need this kind of embarrassing scenarios. It does not give the country positive image that can give foreign investors confidence to come; and we need a lot of them if we hope to use technology to achieve economic transformation “The NCC should have intervened before now but if the EVC is promising to intervene in the matter, it is a step in the right direction. Nigeria cannot afford to lose face in the international community for issues that can be perceived as double standard. Litigations in the telecom sector does not give impression of a stable industry and investors always loathe that. Seeking out of court settlement would be the best for everybody and the Nigerian economy too” he added.

In the meantime, speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, may have finally defected from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party.

Our correspondent gathered on Wednesday night that the embattled speaker had picked the PDP nomination and expression of interest forms to return to the House in 2019.

A member of the National Working Committee of the party, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity,  said that the speaker had picked the forms.

“Yes, he had picked our forms, but don’t quote me, he has joined us,” the source said last night.

Dogara had two days ago expressed his desire to return to the National Assembly in 2019 when members of his constituents visited him in Abuja.

However, he refused to state the political party that he would use to facilitate his ambition.

The Speaker had been having running battles with the leadership of the APC in both his state, Bauchi and at the national level.

Just like the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, who had defected to the PDP from the APC,  Dogara had also absent from the activities of the ruling party.

Our correspondent gathered that the decision by Dogara was necessitated by the fear that his party no longer had faith in him.

With this decision, it is expected that he would announce his defection to his colleagues in the House when the National Assembly resumes after the political parties’ primaries.

Vanguard with additional report from Punch