Govt Denies Out-of-Court Settlement Plan with MTN over Fine


• Minister unveils communications sector roadmap
• Reps berate Shittu over suspension of NITDA boss

THE Federal Government yesterday said it had not resolved to settle out of court with MTN Nigeria over the $5.2 billion fine the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) imposed on the company last year.

Answering question from journalists yesterday in Abuja, Minister of Communications Technology, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, said that there could be no out-of-court settlement except MTN withdraws the case from the court.

He said: “The case is in court, it was MTN that dragged the Federal Government to court. I am not aware of any out-of-court settlement, as issues like this are very sensitive. As far as we are concerned, there can be no out-of-court settlement except they withdraw the case from the court so that government will not be put under any pressure whatsoever. If the case is out-of-court, the President will take a decision but for now, I am not aware of any out-of-court settlement.”

In another development, members of the House of Representatives joint committees on Information Communications Technology (ICT) and Telecommunications yesterday upbraided the Shittu over his non-response to the suspension of the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr. Peter Jack.

The House of Representatives members with Speaker, Yakubu Dogara presiding had while adopting a motion last week, mandated the joint committee to look into the issue and determine whether the suspension of the NITDA chief was in tandem with due process.

When the minister appeared before members of the committee yesterday to throw light on the allegations of misconduct levelled against the NITDA chief, the lawmakers were not impressed with the manner he handled the issue.

The minister, who unveiled the Communications sector roadmap for 2016-2019 in Abuja, said that given the absence of fiscal buffers in amidst low oil prices and rising unemployment, the Federal Government is poised to use ICT which already employs more Nigerians than the oil and gas sector to drive economic growth.

He averred that at 11.93 per cent contribution to the GDP, ICT is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Nigerian economy and the second largest ICT market in Africa.
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