EFCC says NBC officials, others shared N34bn MTN payment
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has unravelled the mystery behind how the N34bn paid by MTN to the National Broadcasting Corporation was shared by officials of the NBC and other individuals.
The Federal Government had last year directed all government agencies to transfer all government funds in commercial banks to the Treasury Single Account of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
It was learnt that shortly before the Federal Government’s directive the NBC had received about N34bn from MTN Operations Account as part of proceeds of the lease of Spectrum bandwidth licensed to MTN by the NBC.
Reliable sources within the EFCC, however, told Punch correspondent that investigations revealed that the NBC not only flouted the directive, it diverted the funds to companies and private individuals.
The source said, “In July last year, the NBC received an inflow of N34,114,500,000 from the MTN Operations Account being proceed of lease of Spectrum Bandwidth licensed to MTN by the commission.
“While the funds were in the account of the NBC, the Federal Government issued a circular dated August 7, 2015 to the effect that all government agencies and parastatals should move all the funds in their accounts to the Treasury Single Account with the CBN. This directive was to both the agencies and the banks that maintained those accounts.
“Despite the directives, the DG National Broadcasting Commission, Emeka Mba, and the bank in a flagrant disobedience to the directive transferred the sum of N2,899,500,000 to the account of Technology Advisor on August 12, 2015 and then moved the sum of N15,038,400,000 in two tranches in September to Zenith Bank Plc which he claimed was a collateral security for set-top-boxes suppliers while the balance of N15,891,625,341.57 was transferred to TSA in CBN on 15/09/2015.”
Explaining further, the source said when Technology Advisor received the funds, it distributed the funds to various individuals.
According to the detective, N390m and N20m were paid to the Director of Finance and Accounts, Technology Advisor, Mr. Patrick Areh, at different times through Kalaz Ventures Limited, a Bureau de Change operator owned by one Abdullahi Kabiru.
Kabiru was said to have confirmed receiving the funds. He told detectives at the EFCC that he transferred the sum of N130m to Azuku Global Resources Limited while the balance was converted to dollars and handed over to the Managing Director, Azuku Global Resources Limited, Ibrahim Samaila, for onward transmission to Areh.
The source added, “Areh confirmed receiving part of the funds in dollars while the balance of N130m was given to Azuku Global Resources Limited for the construction of his Radio House at Onitsha, Anambra State.
“In-View Technology Ltd was contracted to provide Digital Access for the set-top -boxes and was paid N1,237,400,000 out of which the company transferred N20m to Patrick Areh through Azuku Global Resources Limited as a gift. Both Areh and the MD of Azuku Global Resources Limited, Alh. Samaila Ibrahim confirmed receiving the funds.
“Twelve digital set-top-boxes suppliers were licensed to supply the boxes and the sum of N15,038,400,000 was placed in Zenith Bank Plc as collateral security for the contract. However, only eight out of the 12 companies opened letter of credit amounting to N3,739,727,400 while the sum of N1,237,400,000 was for the Digital Access Fees making a total of N4,977,227,400 but the NBC placed the sum of N15,038,500,000 in excess of N10bn.”
It was also learnt that NBC could not provide any documents to show that there was a competitive bidding for the said contract or any approval of a waiver from the Federal Executive Council, the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Minister of Information and Culture seeking to incur expenses above the DG’s limit or approval to waive the directive of the Federal Government on TSA.
It was learnt that Technology Advisor Limited also transferred N398m to the MD D-Vine Partners limited, Mr. Babatunji Amure, who doubles as the MD In-View Technology Ltd, and who claimed to have worked for MTN and not the NBC but was paid with NBC funds.
MTN, however, denied having any transaction with Technology Advisor Limited or D-Vine Partners Limited.
However the NBC in a flagrant disobedience to the directives of the government diverted the funds in its accounts to the following companies: Digitune Media Tech and Construction, African Cable Television Limited, Zinox Tech and Gospell Digital.