ATTORNEY General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said the N50 billion part payment for the N1.04 trillion penalty slammed on MTN for SIM card registration infractions by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was not paid into the Consolidated Revenue Account (CRA) to avoid confusion.
Malami who spoke yesterday at a public hearing conducted by the Saheed Fijabi-led House of Representatives Committee on Telecommunications, said the money paid by MTN was lodged into an asset recovery account fund as, according to law, money in the CRA is shared between the Federal Government and states. The AGF was responding to questions from the lawmakers who had insisted that the recovery account which the N50 billion was paid into was illegal. They insisted that the AGF erred in asking that the money be paid into a different account other than the CRA.
But Malami argued there was no way the MTN payment could have been paid into the CRA, saying it would have been premature to do such.
“When payment is done, its premature that we put it into the CRA because its meant for sharing by the three tiers of government,” he posited.
He said if negotiations were not concluded or anything goes wrong, it might lead to confusion as the money would have been shared.
The AGF also explained to lawmakers that what has been imposed on the telecommunications firm by NCC was not a fine but a penalty.
He explained that a penalty was different from a fine. This is even as he maintained that a fine can only be imposed by a court of law after indictment, so, what has been imposed was a not a fine but a penalty