The Senate Committee on Communications yesterday took exception to the way and manner the out-of-court settlement arrangement between the Federal Government and MTN is being conducted regarding the N1.04 trillion fine imposed on MTN.
The committee also frowned at the alleged shutting out of the Ministry of Communications Technology and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) from the deal.
The committee which conducted investigative hearing on the matter, expressed shock that an account in the name of “recovery account” was opened for the N50 billion fine paid by MTN as part of the settlement.
Committee Chairman, Senator Gilbert Nnaji, noted that members of his committee were worried that a proposal initiated by the MTN for the reduction of the fine to N300 billion had been accepted by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, without recourse to the Ministry of Justice and the NCC.
The committee said it has emerged that an initial 25 per cent reduction of the initial N1.04 trillion fine to N780 billion was on the order of the President Muhammadu Buhari.
The committee brandished a document which showed the proposal by MTN indicating to pay N300 billion made up of N150 billion instalmental payment.
The document further indicated that the N50 billion already paid by MTN is part of the settlement deal.
It said parties have agreed that the N50 billion paid in good faith and without prejudice by MTN Nigeria on the 24th of February, 2016, in order to commence settlement negotiations will form part of the monetary components of the settlement in five equal and annual instalments between the date of execution of this agreement and 31 December, 2020.
It said MTN Nigeria shall pay a total of N100 billion by electronic funds transfer to the Federal Recovery Account of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The payment, it said, will commence by 31 December, this year and will be made by 31 December of each subsequent year”
The proposal also stated that the MTN would buy N80 billion worth of Nigeria’s foreign bond.
The proposal which the committee said it got from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation was admitted by MTN.
Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, who defended himself on allegation of opening the recovery account, told the committee that he acted on the demand of the Attorney-General.
Idris insisted that he was not aware of what money was going to be lodged into the account.
A representative of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr, Dayo Akpata, who labored to convince the committee about the necessity of opening the account was rebuffed.
The committee insisted that the Attorney-General must appear in person before it within two weeks to explain the action.
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