Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

LAGOS — MTN Group should pay double the $5.2bn it was originally fined by Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator last year, according to the spokesman for the West African country’s house of representatives.

Africa’s biggest wireless operator must pay 400,000 naira ($2,015) for each of the 5.2-million unregistered phone lines it failed to deactivate before a deadline, instead of 200,000 naira, legislator Abdulrazak Namdas said in a phone interview from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He also said the lower chamber would "investigate" why Johannesburg-based MTN had been dealing with Nigeria’s attorney-general instead of the Nigerian Communications Commission in trying to get the fine reduced.

While the penalty was cut to $3.9bn earlier this year, MTN proposed this month to pay $1.5bn in cash and instalments to settle it. MTN’s proposal includes $252m dollars that was paid in February in order to continue negotiations.

MTN spokesman Chris Maroleng said the company would not comment on the Nigerian legislators’ call.

"We note ongoing media reports coming from Nigeria," Mr Maroleng said. "But we cannot be drawn into commenting on the matter as we are awaiting clarity and an official position from the Nigerian government on the matter."

He said MTN would guide the market accordingly "when there is more clarity on the matter".

Shares in MTN, which have declined 38% during the past 12 months, fell 0.2% to R128.43 rand at 9.05am in Johannesburg.

Bloomberg