Left: Ferdi Moolman, Right: Phutuma Nhleko (executive chairman MTN)
A fresh controversy is trailing MTN Nigeria’s acquisition of the last surviving Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator, Visafone Communications as Etisalat Nigeria has filed a law suit against MTN Nigeria to hinder the telecommunications company from further entrenching its dominance in the country. The law suit is hinged on MTN’s recent acquisition of Visafone, announced in January 2016 but approved back in the last quarter of 2015.
In a statement on Monday, Etisalat said MTN had been declared dominant by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) since 2013, adding that the usage of the 800 Mega Hertz (MHz) spectrum from Visafone would further extend MTN’s dominance.
“You will recall that MTN Nigeria was declared dominant by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2013 and remains dominant in the wholesale leased line and retail voice markets,” the statement read.
“The use of the 800MHz spectrum to deploy broadband services ahead of its competitors, particularly those who prior to MTNs purchase of Visafone, held similar spectrum bands as MTN, will further entrench MTN’s dominance in the Nigerian telecommunications sector.” Before the acquisition, MTN only operated 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency bands, which is also being operated by Etisalat and Airtel who are also using the GSM technology.
According to sources, Etisalat said it was in contact with the NCC to understand the logic of its decision to approve the MTN deal despite declaring the South African firm a dominant player in Nigeria’s wholesale and retail voice markets in 2013. Etisalat currently boasts of a customer base of over 21 million, while MTN has about 60 million users in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) at the weekend alleged that the Managing Director (MD) of MTN Communications Nigeria, Mr. Ferdi Moolman has been evading service of court papers and refused to honour the invitation of NCC investigators. NCC’s Director of Prosecution, Abdul Ter Kohol said that the NCC would therefore, be applying for a bench warrant for the arrest of the MTN boss for refusal to honour invitation of the NCC and his refusal to appear in court. Kohol added, “If he makes execution of the bench warrant impossible, NCC shall declare him wanted and the effect is that he becomes arrestable by any security agent wherever he is sighted especially at the airport.”
NCC has been investigating MTN Nigeria and its Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, over alleged copyright infringement and NCC operatives have been directed to trail and keep a tab on him. The NCC Act gives investigators powers to invite people against whom allegations of copyright infringement has been made. The investigator had sent invitation letters to the MTN boss while examining criminal violation of copyright of the musical works of Mr. Omenuwoma Okson Dovie, Aka Baba 2010, but the invitations were not honoured by the MTN boss.
Already, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed a criminal trial for the alleged copyright infringement for February 18, 2016 with the new date was fixed because the MTN boss did not appear in court to face his trial in charge No. ABJ/CR/379/2015 filed in the Federal High Court, Abuja.
In the two-count charge signed by NCC Prosecutor and Copyright Inspector, Marypauline Olere-Luma, MTN and Moolman were alleged to have infringed on copies of the musical work of an Abuja based musician, Dovie Omenuwoma-Eniwo (aka Baba 2010).
Specifically, the defendants were alleged to have distributed “sell or let for hire or for the purposes of trade or business, expose or offer for sale 3009 infringing copies of the musical work’’ of Baba 2010.
Just early last month, MTN threw in the towel to settle the sim registration deadline default fine levelled against them by NCC and the Federal Government out of court.
Compiled, edited by: Jimmy Adesanya (Facebook.com/LinkedIn)
Posted by: ©thebrandradio