Telecommunication company, MTN, has hired Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), A.B. Mahmoud and five other Senior Advocates of Nigeria to handle its suit against the federal government and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) before the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The company is challenging the $3.9billion fine imposed on it by the NCC.
Olanipekun, Mahmoud and five other SANS – Tanimola Molajo, Dr. Gbolahan Elias, Oladipo Okpeseyi, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu, Dr. Oladapo Olanipekun – through an originating summons, are challenging the powers of NCC to impose the fine on it.
MTN is urging the court to quash the fine arguing that the the NCC does not have the constitutional power to impose such a fine on it.
The regulatory authority had in October slammed the South African firm with a fine of $5.2billion for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers. It set a deadline of December 31, 2015, for the payment of the said fine after reducing it to $3.9billion (25% reduction)
But according to MTN, the NCC, being a regulator, cannot assume all the functions of the state on its own, considering the fact that it made the regulation, prescribed the penalty and imposed the fine, payable to the commission and not to the federal government.
The telecom company also claimed that it was not afforded its constitutional right to fair hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction and, more importantly, it had not been found guilty of any offence that would warrant it to pay such an outrageous fine.
MTN further maintained that the sanction imposed on it by the NCC was within 24 hours of its written submission on the disconnection exercise and the impractical nature of the NCC deadline.
It claimed that the deadline of seven days to disconnect 5.2 million subscribers was grossly inadequate and impracticable, unfair and ran contrary to the requirement to give adequate notice to the subscribers and all operators.
No date has been fixed for hearing in the suit.
Leadership however reports that when contacted, an anonymous source at the NCC said the commission was ready to take up the matter with MTN, adding that the NCC had the regulatory right to protect the rights of telecom consumers in the nation.