Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu says the final decision on the fine issued by the rests with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

The mobile phone operator has been staring down the barrel of a R72.2 billion fine issued by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) for MTN’s failure to turn off unregistered  or improperly registered SIM cards.

Last week Monday MTN announced that it  had asked for leniency regarding the fine and the deadline for payment was extended until talks with the NCC had concluded. The NCC has now referred the matter to the President.

According to a report on TechCentral, Shittu was quoted as saying, “The issue is now before Mr President. He will take the necessary decision at the appropriate time.”

The Minister went on to say that MTN had done the right thing by admitting that it was at fault but also emphasised that the the decision of the President would be in the best interests of Nigeria.

During his campaign, President Buhari said that he would stamp out corruption and bring accountability to the Nigerian government and this issue may prove to be a test on those promises.

Meanwhile MTN shares have seen prices drop by as much as 25% since the fine was announced toward the end of last month, the unwelcome result of a fine that is almost double of what the largest mobile operator in Africa earned last year.

[Image CC by 2.0 – United Nations Photo]