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'MTN never refused to comply' says Maroleng

'MTN never refused to comply' says Maroleng.

MTN vehemently denies refusing to comply with a directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to disconnect SIM cards with incomplete registration details.

Speaking to ITWeb Africa, Chris Maroleng, Group Executive for Corporate Affairs at MTN Group said the network acted in line with its license conditions.

"MTN never refused. In actual fact, we've placed on record the fact that between August and September of 2015, we went on to disconnect from our network not less than 5.1 million subscribers who were found not have registered their SIM cards correctly, indicating our intention to comply and in compliance with the provisions of the NCC," he said.

"What is important when we face a situation like this is we must seek clarity the NCC on this matter because their understanding of events is the one, in my view, that will give us guidance in this matter."

Maroleng also explained circumstances surrounding the commission's renewal, and consequent extension of the tenure of MTN's operating spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands – at a time when media reports suggested that the commission had suspended regulatory services it was offering to the operator.

"We received notification from the NCC that they will renew our license to operate, and they will harmonise the commencement dates and the expiry date to 2021. In so doing, they've extended all of these licenses to operate simultaneously and the provision is we need to pay over US$94 million by the 31st of December."

He confirmed that the operator would comply fully with conditions for the renewal which meant the $94 million+ fee would have to be paid before the expiry date.

Concerning the NGN1.04 trillion fine, Maroleng said MTN is actively engaging with the NCC. "We are currently engaging the NCC in the interest of finding a resolution to the question of the fine as soon as possible. How that resolution will be gotten and what that resolution is, is a matter that is close and subject to our engagement with the NCC."

The senior executive refused to comment on who, aside from the NCC, MTN is engaging with over the matter, or what options the network is presenting before the commission.

"We are not at liberty to discuss specifically on the engagement. What we can say is we are engaging with the NCC and the authorities in Nigeria around how to find a resolution to this matter. Beyond that we cannot comment in the form of who the personalities are, how it's working, what the negotiation is about, what the nature of the discussion is, at what stage we are in our engagement," he said.

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