N3.4bn Fraud: Ex-NBC Directors Strongly Deny EFCC Allegations
Members of the dissolved board of the National Broadcasting Commission, who were summoned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, have denied that a N3.4bn fraud happened under their watch.
The ex-directors said this in a letter addressed to the EFCC which was signed by their lawyer, Chief Ogwu Onoja (SAN).
The anti-graft agency had invited members of the board including Professor Herbert Orji (chairman), Mohammed Kabir Umar, Mike Iheanetu, Yakubu Busa Buji, Ebenezer Ayorinde, Isa Badamasi Dahiru, Prince Dennis Sam, Jude Nnodum (SAN), Emeka Mba (ex-director-general) and Peter Dama (representative of the Ministry of Information).
The EFCC had said it believed that spectrum (radio frequency) was leased to MTN for a period of 10 years at the rate of $171m without an auction while 10 per cent broker fees amounting to N3.4bn was paid to Technology Advisor even before a presidential approval.
However, the directors said they did no wrong.
The statement read in part, “There is and was no scam in the sum of N3.4bn or in any amount that our clients are aware of. Specifically in relation to Technology Advisors, a proposal was submitted to the NBC, which was brought up to the members of the commission for review.
“The salient aspects of the proposal referred to the then members of the commission for consideration were the assignments to be performed by Technology Advisors, and the fees, which the firm demanded. Upon review, our clients agreed that the firm should be engaged to proceed with the assignment as presented but that the fees of 20 per cent demanded should be reduced to 10 per cent.”
The former directors said they neither leased nor sold spectrum to MTN but only gave the company a licence which would enable it to get the spectrum.
They explained that MTN was given the licence by virtue of being the highest bidder.
The statement added, “The NBC neither sold nor leased spectrum to MTN. Yes, MTN applied for its licence – like all other licensees. However, since it took part in the special auction process, its application was triggered by its success in making the highest bid in the sum of $171m, which the then members of the commission accepted and directed the DG of NBC to invite MTN to apply for the licence accordingly. Spectrum is only allocated post-licensing, and is meant to enable those operations for which the licensee is authorised to engage in its broadcast licence.”
The directors maintained that since all Federal Government boards were dissolved in July 2015, they could not be questioned over any transaction that took place thereafter.
The statement added, “The dissolution of boards of government occurred in July 2015, and the members of the commission had left office and moved on with their respective personal and official endeavours. And this occurred before any monies were paid under this transaction to any entity.
“Thus, by the time Technology Advisors or other entities were paid any fees on the project, there was legally no board or members of the commission in existence. Since that dissolution, the members of the commission ceased to have any tie to the NBC in law, and should be accorded the respect and dignity they deserve as distinguished citizens who served their country creditably and remarkably.”
Source: The Punch
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