On Tuesday, the Federal High Court in Lagos barred MTN Nigeria Communications Limited from moving any funds abroad it may have in Nigerian banks until the hearing of its suit challenging the N1.4 trillion fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)
The Federal Government brought a motion to restrain the 21 commercial banks, in which MTN has funds, from releasing money to the telecommunications giant.
“The FG seeks an order of Mareva injunction [a court order which requests assets be frozen] restraining the aforementioned banks from releasing, making a sale, transferring, or paying any of the monies maintained by the plaintiff MTN,” the motion read in part.
In October, the telecommunications giant was originally hit with a massive $5.2 billion fine by the NCC for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers. This failure was in direct violation of regulations put in place by the NCC in order to combat the uptick in kidnappings and the Boko Haram insurgency, both of which often involve the usage of cell phones.
The fine was eventually reduced to $3.9 billion in December. However, MTN is suing the NCC and the Attorney General of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami, contending that as a regulatory body the NCC does not have the right to assume all the functions of the state.