The Nigerian government will not be holding any talks with MTN until the probe being conducted by the country’s lawmakers is concluded, Adebayo Shittu, minister of Communications, said this yesterday at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held in Aso Rock in Abuja.

According to Shittu, talks with the operator will resume “as soon as the ongoing (parliamentary) investigations are concluded we will sit down with them (MTN).”

The lawmakers are carrying out investigations and part of what they are exploring is potential reduction in the fine which was initially $5.2 billion before the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reduced it to $3.9 billion.

The minister said the probe has hindered efforts by MTN to launch new talks aimed at getting the fine reduced further.

The House launched its investigation after MTN angered lawmakers by snubbing an invitation to its Nigeria Chief Executive Ferdi Moolman to appear at the telecoms committee.

MTN offered in March to pay $1.5 billion, according to a document seen by Reuters. And it dropped a legal case against the regulator as the first step in its efforts to reach an out of court settlement.

Minister Shittu also revealed that the FEC has approved the action of the Nigerian delegation and has directed the Ministry of Justice to review the draft treaty for it to be domesticated as part of laws in Nigeria.

He said: “At this meeting, the significant milestone was the fact that in all of the 150 years of existence of the ITU, a Nigerian in the person of Engr. Festus Dawudu, a Director of a Spectrum in the Ministry emerged as the Chairman.

“It has never happened that an African would be Chairman of the 150-year old body.

“Again, consequently, the Nigerian delegation signed the treaty and also a declaration to say that Nigeria reserves the right to react to any other member country which tries to intrude into what rightly belongs to Nigeria by way of the frequencies allowed Nigerians,” he stated.

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Paul Adepoju
Paul ADEPOJU is a Nigerian freelance journalist, managing editor, blogger and published writer (3 books already). He has vast experience working with various media organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe and America. He covers stories on various genres and for various audiences. He is the managing editor of HealthNewsNG.com which is Africa's leading health news website; he also manages IBPulse.com, a city blog that focuses on happenings in his home town of Ibadan, southwest Nigeria. He has won several awards including Nigeria's Vanguard Newspaper's Young Nigerian Making The Difference award; a certificate of recognition from UNESCO and Goi Peace Institute in Japan; a finalist at the International Press Institute's Young Nigerian Journalist of the Year award; and was the only African finalist in the NetImpact/FedEx Global Access Essay Competition.