Globacom has insinuated underhand tactics in the ongoing interconnect dispute between the company and MTN Nigeria claiming the N7.05 billion interconnect debt slammed on it is grossly over-bloated.
Reacting to the lingering dispute, a statement issued in Lagos on behalf of the company, vehemently objected to the figure being pushed forward as debt as it claims, ”the recent attempt by MTN to bully Globacom into paying it a bogus claim of N7.05 billion interconnect fees has left many wondering why the South African firm is courageous enough to pursue such underhand tactics”.
”While MTN had slammed a whopping sum of over N7.05 billion on Globabom, covering interconnect charges of N1.6 billion (which was already paid before the controversial publication), VAT of N1.7 billion allegedly paid on behalf of GLOBACOM and a compounded interest of N3.6 billion, which Globacom considered preposterous since it is the absolute prerogative of companies to pay its own interests and never through proxies”.
The statement alleges that the two parties sat down for due diligence with NCC officials in Lagos, and it was clearly established that contrary to the MTN insistence on claiming the earlier published N7.05 billion, the amount Globacom was supposed to pay MTN was actually only N2.3 billion. So why was MTN trying to force through a false claim of N7.05 billion? it questions.
Could it be that it is being emboldened by the fact that its current Chairman, Ernest Ndukwe, used to be the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecommunications industry regulator? it further asks.
‘There is also the fact that one of its directors, Omobola Johnson, was the supervising minister of the industry as Communications Minister between 2011 and 2015.
”Ndukwe joined the Board of MTN in June 2018 as a Non Executive Director, and became its Chairman in July 2019. This was barely 8 years after he retired as EVC of NCC. His staff including those he employed when he was at NCC are still there at the commission”.
The company also added, ”Omobola Johnson was Minister of Information and Communications between 2011 and 2015. In September 2019, She joined MTN as a board member, just 8 years after leaving office as minister”.
Citing the example of the banking industry, it claims that a former director or governor of the Central Bank cannot join the board of a bank in Nigeria until after 10 years. This is intended to ensure that the bank does not enjoy undue advantage or influence withing the corridors of the apex bank. ”This should also be the case in the telecoms industry to ensure no operator gains undue advantage or influence”.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola has reacted to the ongoing debacle between the two network providers. In an interview with Arise TV on 27th January 2024, reacted to the MTN-Glo interconnect debt issue.
A press release by the MTN’s PR agency on the monitored interview recalls that the NCC had on January 8, 2024, published a pre-disconnection notice informing subscribers of the approval granted MTN Nigeria Communications Plc to commence the phased disconnection of Globacom Limited with effect from January 18, 2024, due to a long-standing interconnection debt dispute between the parties.
Reacting to the debt dispute at the interview, Karl was claimed to have said, “Suffice it to say that we have between the NCC and the CBN, the most developed regulatory bodies who arbitrate on such matters and whatever we do in that dispute or that discourse will be in line with what the NCC dictates. The NCC is very competent in addressing such issues; they’ve come out with authorization for disconnection and that has been put on hold to allow addressing these issues.
”I can say that MTN will always act in the most professional, most compliant manner, and we will not do anything that hasn’t been authorised by our licensing conditions or the regulator.
“We are a Nigerian company, registered in Nigeria with Nigerian shareholders. If you look at our leadership cadre, you’ll see that the company is 90% led at the very top level by Nigerians, and I don’t think we have more than 10 expatriates in this company. We have a very seasoned board of Nigerian directors as well as some international directors. We’ve grown to this size because we’ve done the right things at the right time. You cannot force customers to make their choice with their wallets,” he added.