El-Rufai denies complicity in MTN ​N1.04 trn ​fine saga

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The ​Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has ​denied any role in the N1.04 trillion fine imposed on ​one of ​Nigeria​’s major mobile telephone service providers, MTN​.​

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, had fined MTN Nigeria a staggering N1.04 trillion ($5.2 billion) for failing to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered subscribers.

Following the fine imposed on the company, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Sifiso Dabengwa, resigned on November 9.

Mr. El-Rufai said news reports linking him with NCC/MTN spat, acquisition of Etisalat shares and ownership of choice property in Abuja​,​ were false.

He said the allegations were aimed at denting his reputation.

A statement by the governor’s Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Muyiwa Adekeye, said as​ a​ political office holder, he owed it as a duty to explain to Nigerians and clear his name.

According to him, Nigerian governors unanimously moved a motion for consideration ​of the matter ​by the federal government after listening to the presentation of the executive vice chairman of NCC, Umar Dambatta, during the Nigerian Governors’ Forum meeting held on November 18.

The governors’ unanimous suggestion, he said, followed clarifications by the NCC that relevant laws and regulations do not permit leniency in the alleged infraction committed by MTN.

“The NGF does not have constitutional, regulatory or enforcement powers.

“Its motion is purely advisory and strongly supportive of the NCC and the need to uphold regulatory rulings properly issued.

“The NGF appreciated that a reduction of such a fine not only create moral hazard but subject to even wilder interpretations on how it was procured.

“Apart from encouraging state institutions to uphold rules, state governors have direct beneficial interest in ensuring that additional revenues accrue to the federation account for the benefit of the three tiers of government.

“This is the greater public interest which motivated the unanimous passage of the motion by the governors.

“The NGF does not have constitutional, regulatory or enforcement powers. Its motion is purely advisory and strongly supportive of the NCC and the need to uphold regulatory rulings properly issued.

“The NGF appreciated that a reduction of such a fine not only create moral hazard but subject to even wilder interpretations on how it was procured.

“Apart from encouraging state institutions to uphold rules, state governors have direct beneficial interest in ensuring that additional revenues accrued to the federation account for the benefit of the three tiers of government.

“This is the greater public interest which motivated the unanimous passage of the motion by the governors,” he said.

Mr. El-Rufai however acknowledged participating actively in the discussions, stressing that he even helped modify the motion that was eventually adopted.

“El-Rufai believes that Nigerians will see beyond the attempt to insert him into a purely regulatory issue.

“El-Rufai is not the NCC and did not author the rules that were breached; neither did he encourage one out of several telecommunication companies to breach a regulation of national​ security significance,” he added.

The governor also disassociated himself from any equity holdings, either directly or through proxy in Etisalat and Jabi Mall in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

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