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EFCC grills ex-NBC DG, board members over curious $171m MTN deal

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has invited for interrogation, a former Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Emeka Mba and nine ex-members of the board, to explain what they know about the sale/lease of 700Mhz spectrum to MTN for $171million (about N34,114,500,000.00) and why a Technology Adviser was paid 10% broker fees of about N3.4billion.

The technology adviser was allegedly paid the 10% in a curious manner before the presidential approval of the request for the sale.

The invited ex-board members are Professor Herbert Orji (chairman), Mohammed Kabir Umar, Mike Iheanetu, Yakubu Busa Buji, Ebenezer Ayorinde, Isa Badamasi Dahiru, Prince Dennis Sam, Jude Nnodum (SAN) and Peter Dama (representative of the Ministry of Information).

NBC sold/leased the 700Mhz spectrum to MTN for 10 years for the purpose of providing digital pay TV broadcasting services.

The NBC had allegedly sold the spectrum to MTN in a desperate bid to raise cash to enable Nigeria meet the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) deadline for the Digital Switchover (DSO).

The EFCC however smells a rat over the sale, insisting that the spectrum was disposed of at a rate suspected to be cheap as its value as at May 2015 was over N200 billion and that the supposed Technology Advisor was unknown to MTN.

A source at the EFCC said members of the dissolved board of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) are to be quizzed by the EFCC for their role in the scam.

“These board members have been summoned for questioning beginning from Monday, April 25, 2015 at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

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“The board members are going to be questioned in batches and the first batch is expected to appear before a crack panel of investigators on April 25.

“They are expected to be questioned over issues surrounding the sale/lease of the spectrum to telecoms giant MTN for $171million (about N34,114,500,000.00) and how 10percent broker fees amounting to  N3.4bn was paid the Technology Advisor even before presidential approval.”

Continuing, the source said the board approved the payment on December 4, 2014 meeting but did not seek presidential approval until May 15, 2015 while the approval for the sale/lease of the Spectrum eventually came on May 21, 2015.

“Contrary to the impression created by the NBC, MTN says it did not know Technology Advisor who claimed to have raised funds for the company.

“The spectrum was sold to MTN. There was no auction. MTN is licensed to broadcast and the spectrum was leased to it for 10 years at the rate of $171m. There was no broker in between.

“So where did the Technology Adviser come into the picture and on what basis did he collect the N3.4billion broker fee?”

Confirming the status of the Technology Adviser, a source at the NBC said that the Technology Adviser had “a retainership with the commission for which he was collecting N18million per year. Under the agreement, it had obligation to negotiate, attend meetings and give legal advice on technology to NBC.

“Based on this relationship, everybody in NBC had been asking whether it did not amount to double payment for the same company to receive broker fees for rendering services supposedly spelt out in the retainership agreement.”

 

 

 

 

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