Nigerian president accuses MTN of 'fuelling Boko Haram insurgency'
Last year, the country’s communications regulator slapped MTN with a $5,2 billion fine.
ABUJA - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has accused MTN South Africa of "fuelling Boko Haram insurgency" in northeast Nigeria by failing to disconnect millions of unregistered users.
According to Agence France-Press, all mobile phone operators in Nigeria were ordered to disconnect unregistered SIMs by mid-2015 on security grounds but MTN missed the deadline.
Last year, the country's communications regulator slapped MTN with a $5,2 billion fine, which was reduced to $3.9-billion.
It has since paid out $250 million towards the penalty.
MTN's troubles in Nigeria has seen its profits falls by over 50 percent.
The issue cast a shadow over the build-up to the visit of President Jacob Zuma and was expected to have been high on the agenda when he met Buhari for talks in the capital, Abuja.
Buhari said, "The concern of the federal government was basically on the security, not the fine imposed on the MTN. You know how the unregistered GSM are being used by terrorists... That was why (the) NCC (Nigerian Communications Commission) asked the MTN, Glo and the rest of them to register GSM."
Buhari added that MTN was very slow and contributed to the casualties.
Boko Haram violence has left 17,000 dead and forced more than 2.6 million from their homes since 2009. Buhari announced in December the group was "technically" defeated but attacks continue.
Zuma arrived in Abuja this morning in a visit which observers see as an attempt to mend fences between Africa's largest economic powers.
He was given a 21-gun salute when he arrived at the presidential villa, Aso Rock, and inspected a guard of honour before heading inside for talks with Buhari.
Nigeria has asked South Africa for closer defence ties, including Special Forces training in operations against Boko Haram, military spokesman Rabe Abubakar announced late on Monday.
MTN says it's not commenting on a statement release by the Nigerian president this afternoon.