Protesters attack, vandalise MTN office

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• Mobile giant expresses faith in economy

Youths protesting the xenophobic attack on some Nigerians in South Africa, yesterday attacked and vandalised the head office of MTN in Abuja. According to Reuters, an spokesman was quoted as saying; “They vandalised equipment, stole customer phones and I-Pads. Some customers too were attacked.

“They are protesting against the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. It’s our regional head office in Abuja. That’s where we have our customer care centre.”

Reacting, MTN Group, in a terse statement, said it was concerned over the violence against its property in Nigeria, where protesters attacked and vandalised its head office. The telco enjoined people to exercise restraint and remain calm.

The carrier said it has absolute confidence in its Nigerian operations in spite of all its trivails over the N330 billion fine over SIM card registration rules infractions.

Its Group Chairman/Chief Executive, Mr. Phuthuma Nhleko who spoke when he led a high level delegation to the Abuja Headquarters of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said the Group will be willing to invest more in the sector in years to come.

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“We had challenges in the past, during the period of the fine, and we are grateful for the role, the Commission played towards an amicable resolution,” Nhleko said.

He said the Group has injected over $16 billion into the country’s operations. “We have a very long way to go and so (we) ask for spectrum which is the oxygen and life blood to navigate this long and tedious investment journey. Without spectrum, the sector will suffocate,” he said.

Nhleko specifically asked for more spectrum and the release of Visafone spectrum which equity MTN Nigeria acquired in 2015.

He said MTN has made its mark in voice and data services and that more services such as mobile financial services are underway.

Responding,  NCC CEO, Prof. Garba Danbatta assured the delegation that the Commission will always play by the rules and support every operator within the ambits of the law.

“I like to state that our word is our covenant.  When we take decisions, we are concerned about the stability of the industry and there is no way we can guarantee it without considering the dominant status of MTN and its obligations and if the dominant status is becoming stringent, we are open to engagement, we will be guided by what is happening in the market, to ensure the growth and development of the sector.

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“The sector has contributed very well to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has shown remarkable resilience in this recession,” a statement endorsed by Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Tony Ojobo, quoted Danbatta as saying.

Some 20 shops believed to belong to immigrants were looted in the country’s capital, Pretoria in a fresh round of xenophobic attacks, although police refused to say if the attackers were specifically targeting foreigners.

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