On Tuesday, a Federal High Court in Lagos declined an application filed by the Attorney General of the Federation seeking to stop MTN Nigeria from moving its funds out of the country.
The application for a mareva injunction was filed by the AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who “expressed his fear that MTN could move all its funds out of the country before the N1 trillion fine could be paid” arguing that MTN was in the “habit of regularly repatriating its funds out of Nigeria.” according to a report by The Punch.
The application drew the court’s attention to February 8, 2008 when MTN moved more than $936 million out of Nigeria to accounts in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands and Mauritius. This reinforced the AGF’s belief that MTN was trying to stall the payment of the fine so that it can move its fund again.
The application also sought to direct all the 21 Nigerian banks where MTN’s funds were lodged to “open a special interest-yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court and move N1.04tn out of the funds belonging to MTN into it.”
The Judge overseeing the court declined the application and decided against making the application because, the AGF had not done enough to prove that MTN was about to move its funds again.
Last month, MTN countered the NCC’s fine by assembling a team of seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria to challenge the fine, stating that the NCC could not pursue Section 70 of the 2003 NCC Act to impose the fine.
The suit has been adjourned till January 22, 2016 for hearing. Mr. Malami is taking sides with the NCC on this matter because he believes it is “his duty as the chief law enforcement officer in the country to ensure that all the laws made by the National Assembly were obeyed.”