Airtel Kenya has accused the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) of unlawfully delegating its authority to the Treasury secretary in demanding $20.025 million (Sh2.06 billion) in fees after it acquired Yu Mobile.
Airtel insists that the CA had promised to merge its operating licences with the ones it purchased from Yu Mobile in 2014 for the $6.976 million (Sh718 million) it paid to acquire the rival firm.
The firm claims that its newly-acquired licences are due to expire on January 27, 2025 but shortly after it paid the Sh718 million in December 2014, the CA shifted goalposts and demanded an additional Sh2.06 billion as a condition for renewing its operating permits.
Airtel Monday told the court that the CA made an about-turn after it completed the purchase of Yu mobile and indicated that it had directions from the Treasury to demand Sh2.06 billion.
The telecom operators has asked the High Court to quash the demand letters issued by the CA and order the regulator to issue it with a fresh licence to expire on January 27, 2025.
“The last letter demanding payment of Sh2.06 billion is a demand letter from Treasury and not the CA. It is unlawful for a statutory body to become a puppet of a minister because the law has given that body the authority to independently exercise its authority and not at the whims of the minister,” Airtel lawyer told the court.
The lawyer said that a power which is abused should be treated as a power which is not lawfully exercised, adding that the CA was reluctant to enforce the demand because it was doubting whether given the sequence of its letters and agreement with Airtel, it would proceed with the demand.
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