South African telecoms giant MTN has paid almost $100 million of a $1.7 billion fine for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards in Nigeria, officials said on Friday.
“MTN has paid 30 billion naira ($98 million, 92 million euros) as part of the fine,” Tony Ojobo, spokesman for Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) told AFP.
“The payment is in furtherance of the agreed timetable for payment of the total fine.”
He said MTN had officially paid 80 billion naira of the aggregate fine of 330 billion naira.
Ojobo said MTN was required to pay the following tranche of the fine “based on the payment schedule agreed by the two parties.” A MTN source in Nigeria affirmed the installment.
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“Yes, we have made another payment. It’s in fulfilment of our financial obligations to the NCC regarding the fine,” he said, without giving details.
MTN was at first hit with a $5.2 billion fine in October 2015 for neglecting to cut off 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards as asked for by the Nigerian government.
Security was cited as being behind the move, over feelings of dread that Boko Haram Islamists were utilizing unregistered SIMs to arrange and execute assaults in the remote northeast of the country.
Brutality by the jihadist group has left no less than 20,000 dead and constrained more than 2.6 million people from their homes since 2009.
In December 2015, the fine was lessened to $3.4 billion, then cut further in June a year ago to $1.7 billion, which at the time was proportional to 330 billion naira.
The installment is lurched more than three years.
The Johannesburg-based firm, which is the biggest mobile provider in Nigeria, debilitated to haul out of the nation during the SIM card row, before the fine was lessened.