LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – South African telecoms giant MTN has formally filed at the Federal High Court in court in Lagos seeking to annul the $3.4 billion fine imposed on Oct. 26 by telecommunications regulatory agency Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the company said in a statement on Monday.
MTN will contend that the NCC’s action violated some provisions of the Nigerian statutes regarding a fair hearing, and that the agency usurped the judicial powers of the court which the company said has the power to impose the penalty, MTN has asked the court to grant it an order of “perpetual injunction” restraining the NCC or its proxies from executing the fine.
MTN also said the fine was the highest ever imposed on any telecoms company in the world. The company will argue that the law that empowered the NCC to recommend, impose and execute fines removes the court’s power to hear and determine appeals.
MTN will contend that the NCC had imposed sanctions on it within 24 hours of finding it guilty of the alleged noncompliance with the its rules, describing the actions of the agency as “unrealistic.”
The NCC had imposed a deadline of seven days to disconnect 5.2 million subscribers who had not registered their SIM cards. MTN called the deadline “grossly inadequate and impracticable,” insisting that the deadline to disconnect the offending subscribers was unfair and ran contrary to the requirements to give enough notice to the subscribers and all operators.
At least seven senior lawyers are representing the telecoms firm in the suit filed over the weekend.
Nigeria’s Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami is joined as a defendant in the suit which is yet to be assigned to any judge.
MTN’s legal action comes ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline the Nigerian regulator has given the telecoms firm to pay the fine, which had been revised downward from the $5.2 billion initially imposed.
NCC’s spokesman Tony Ojobo told Anadolu Agency that the agency would “respond” to the suit once it has been served.
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