N1.04trn fine: NCC asks court to dismiss MTN’s case - THE NEW DAWN ONLINE

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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

N1.04trn fine: NCC asks court to dismiss MTN’s case



Following the suit filed by MTN Nigeria Communications‎ Limited challenging the N1.04 trillion fine slammed on it (MTN) for allegedly breaching Nigerian Communications Commission’s ‎(NCC) statutory and regulatory directives, the NCC has asked the court to dismiss MTN’s case for lack of jurisdiction.

NCC, in a motion on notice filed through a group of lawyers including: Ahmed Raji (SAN) and Mahmud Magaji (SAN), challenged the competence of the suit and the court’s jurisdiction to hear it, arguing that MTN failed to ensure proper service of court documents.

It would be recalled that MTN had instituted a suit against NCC before the Federal High Court, Lagos, asking it for an order to void NCC’s decision to penalize it for failing to among others, deregister about 5.2 million subscribers within a given deadline.

NCC in their motion stated that the suit was wrongly instituted in the Lagos division of the Federal High Court and that MTN in serving court processes on it, failed to comply with the provision of Section 143 of the NCC Act which stipulates that all court processes are to be served at the principal office of NCC.

Also, NCC argued that it was wrong for MTN to have served court processes in relation to the suit on its Lagos office.
“The telecommunication company initiated the suit at the wrong venue by going before the Federal High Court, Lagos, which lacked the territorial jurisdiction to determine the dispute”, it stated.

In an affidavit filed along its motion, NCC noted that not only did all facts relating to the dispute occur in Abuja, stating that defendants in the suit, NCC and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) have their headquarter offices in Abuja.

NCC however, asked the court to set aside the purported service of all processes in the case on it.
In the alternative, it wants the court to either decline jurisdiction over the case or transfer it to its Abuja division.

MTN is, by the suit, challenging NCC’s powers to impose fine even as a regulator.

MTN had argued that NCC, being a regulator, cannot assume all the functions of the state on its own, considering the fact that they made the regulation, prescribed the penalty and imposed the fine, payable to the commission and not the Federal Government.

It argued that by imposing a fine on it, the commission was already usurping “the exclusive legislative powers of the National Assembly, as well as the judicial powers of the courts established under the Constitution.”

MTN stated that it was not afforded the constitutional right of fair hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction and insisted that it had not been found guilty of any offence to warrant the fine of $3.9bn imposed on it.

It wants the court to among others, determine whether NCC can act pursuant to Section 70 of the NCC Act to impose a fine on it in view of the provisions of sections 1 (3), (4) and (6) of the 1999 Constitution.

The Guardian

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