The Nigerian government said it would neither be cowed nor threatened by MTN’s court action over the R59 billion ($3.9 billion) fine imposed on the South Africa-based mobile phone operator by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), according to a report.

The Vanguard newspaper reported that the Nigerian Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, made the statement in reaction to the legal suit instituted by South African firm in the Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria.

“It is the right of MTN to approach the court but there was an infraction, which MTN admitted to have committed before it pleaded for leniency that led to the reduction of the fine … and the subsequent December 31, 2015 deadline to  pay,” Victor Oluwadamilare, Special Assistant on Media for the Minister of Communications told the newspaper .

“If it has decided to go to court, it is still within the ambit of the law. I will not intervene, since they have gone to court, we will allow the court to decide if it is right for MTN to commit those infractions and breach the laws of the land. It is unwise for MTN to go to court after the Federal Government had magnanimously reduced the fine. It will surely be fined for violating the rule at the expiration of the deadline, should it fail to pay the initial fine,” said Oluwadamilare on behalf of the Minister.

Meanwhile, MTN, also insisted that its action was induced by commitment and belief in the long term sustainability of its business.

“The fine has potentially dire consequences for the company, its employees, partners, stakeholders as well as the entire Nigerian telecommunications industry,” MTN Nigeria’s human resources & corporate services xxecutive, Amina Oyagbola, told the Vanguard newspaper.

MTN was given a December 31 deadline to pay the fine for its failure to disconnect 5.2 million subscribers who did not register their SIM cards. But on Thursday announced it was planning to challenge in court a $3,9 billion fine imposed on it by the NCC.

The South African based mobile phone operator has hired seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to fight the R59 billion ($3.9 billion) fine imposed on it by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), according to Africa Review

The mobile phone operator said it has followed due process and has instructed its lawyers to proceed with an action in the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking the appropriate reliefs.

MTN added that is advised that in the current circumstances in line with pending legal action the NCC is restrained from taking further action until the matter is finally determined.

The Africa Review said that MTN has acquired as lead lawyer Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who is leading the others against the federal government and NCC before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

No date has been fixed for the hearing.

The debacle has resulted in MTN Nigeria’s CEO Michael Ikpoki and the head of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Akinwale Goodluck to resign.

MTN  Group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa also tendered his resignation.

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