Chief executive officer of MTN, Sifiso Dabengwa has stepped down with immediate effect this morning.

The cellular network provider was recently issued a R72.2 billion fine by the Nigerian Communications Commission when it  failed to deactivate some 5.2 million unregistered SIM cards on its Nigerian network.

A statement issued by the former CEO states this as his primary reason for leaving. “Due to the most unfortunate prevailing circumstances occurring at MTN Nigeria, I, in the interest of the Company and its shareholders, have tendered my resignation with immediate effect,” Dabengwa said.

In his stead non-executive group chairperson, Phuthuma Nhleko will act as Executive chairman for the next six months while MTN searches for Dabengwa’s replacement.

Nhleko has said that he will work with the group over the period to deal with the matter in Nigeria as a matter of urgency.

“Together with the MTN Board, my second priority will be to find an appropriate Chief Executive Officer to take MTN forward. I will then revert to my Non-executive Chairman role,” Nhleko added.

Following a shutdown of trading last week, the operator has also advised shareholders to exercise caution when dealing with MTN securities until they advise otherwise.

[Image CC by 2.0 – Phil Roeder]