A man enters a customer’s mobile cellphone sim card details on an MTN Group Ltd. registration machine at a roadside kiosk in Lagos last week.   Picture: BLOOMBERG/GEORGE OSODI
A man enters a customer’s mobile cellphone sim card details on an MTN registration machine at a roadside kiosk in Lagos. Picture: BLOOMBERG/GEORGE OSODI

ABU Dhabi-headquartered telecoms company Etisalat is suing MTN for the second time in less than a year in Nigeria.

Etisalat said on Monday it was suing MTN over the latter’s purchase of Nigerian internet provider Visafone Communications. Etisalat said MTN’s purchase could create a dominant data services market player in Nigeria, harming competition.

MTN later confirmed that Etisalat Nigeria had served it with a court summons based on a lawsuit. But MTN added that it was not the first time it had been sued in Nigeria by Etisalat.

"In July 2015, the company (Etisalat Nigeria) filed a suit against the NCC (Nigerian Communications Commission) and MTN, at the Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking a number of orders including an order of mandamus to compel NCC to direct MTN to withdraw its 11 kobo (Nigerian cents) per second tariff plan, among others," said MTN.

"This was the same tariff plan widely advertised and being charged by other networks including Etisalat and approved by the NCC.

"MTN filed a preliminary objection challenging the suit, and on December 2 2015, Etisalat’s action was dismissed by the court with costs awarded in favour of NCC and MTN," said the company.

Regarding the latest court action by Etisalat, MTN Nigeria executive Amina Oyagbola said the acquisition of Visafone was concluded after obtaining statutory and regulatory approvals.

However, Ms Oyagbola was not willing to comment further on the lawsuit as the matter is "sub judice".

The NCC last year slapped a $3.9bn fine on MTN Nigeria after the mobile network failed to disconnect 5-million SIM cards in a timely manner.

MTN Nigeria is challenging the fine in court. Last month, a Lagos court adjourned MTN’s legal challenge to March 18 to give the parties a chance to settle the matter.

Fin24