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MTN Dismisses Illegal Money Repatriation Charges

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Phutuma Nhleko, MTN group chairman, said on Thursday that accusations that Africa’s biggest mobile operator had moved funds illegally out of Nigeria had no basis.

MTN is facing an investigation by Nigerian lawmakers for allegedly illegally repatriating $14 billion between 2006 and 2016.

MTN has denied any wrongdoing.

Last year, Dino Melaye, Kogi West Senator, alleged that MTN illegally repatriated N13.9 billion, in connivance with four commercial banks and a serving minister.

On January this year, Justice Abdulaziz Anka of the Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sum of N8 billion allegedly belonging to MTN Communications Limited to the Federal Government.

The judge gave the order that the sum, suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity, which are stashed in account number 0012005379 domicile in Ecobank, be temporarily forfeited following an ex-parte application to that effect filed before the court by the federal government.

Also affected by the order of the court is another account number 1013607079 containing billions of Naira domicile in Skye Bank Plc, whose owner has not file any application before the court to contest ownership.

Justice Anka further gave an order directing the publication of a notice in two National Daily newspapers inviting any person(s) who may have interest in the subject funds to, within 14 days of the publication of the order, show cause why a final order should not be made forfeiting the said funds to the government of Nigeria.

The judge also directed that the order should be served on the respective branch managers of the respondents banks and to stop forthwith all outward payments from the subject accounts and to immediately deliver to the court the respective statements of account with certificate of authentication and other relevant documents as at the date and time of service of the court order on them.

The suit, in which the government obtained the order, was marked FHC/L/CS/1676/2016 and filed by an Abuja based lawyer, Barrister John Opeyemi, on behalf of Attorney- General of the Federation (AGF), and an asset recovery agent of the federal government, Algaita Group Nigeria Limited.

In an affidavit sworn to by the Managing Director of Algaita Group Limited, Abdullahi Mohammed Maiturare, he averred that the AGF appointed his company as an Asset Recovery Agent of the Federal Government of Nigeria to track, freeze and recover funds and ensure it is remitted to the designated bank account of the Federal Government of Nigeria through legally permissible means as may be directed by the Attorney General of the Federation.

Maiturare, a former operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), also claimed that his company has credible information at its disposal which reveals that funds which are strongly believed to be Federal Government of Nigeria’s funds stolen, diverted and laundered are hidden in some coded accounts in the two banks Ecobank and Skye bank.

He further maintained that credible information at his disposal, from reliable sources, indicates that there is an account maintained at Ecobank Nigeria Limited in the name of MTN Nigeria Communications operating account number 0012005379 that has a credit balance of N8 billion.

Maiturare also alleged that “from the totality of the credible information at our disposal, the applicants reasonably believe and satisfied that the funds in the possession of the two banks are unclaimed properties or proceeds of unlawful activity of stealing, diversion and money laundering of some public officials and their cronies in the private sector.

“Consequently if urgent steps are not taken to obtain certified documents of the accounts and statements thereof as well as stop outward transactions on the accounts, the funds may be dissipated and the account documentation or statements may be tampered with,” he insisted.

But in a preliminary objection, MTN Communications Limited has urged the court to discharge and set aside the orders made on it, as it relates to its account held with Ecobank Limited.

The telecommunications company, in an affidavit sworn to by a legal practitioner, Mrs. Ibukunoluwa Owa on behalf of MTN communication and filed before the court by Adeniyi Adegbonmire (SAN), the deponent averred that from information delivered to him by Babatunde Adewumi, the Manager, Banking and Treasury in the employment of MTN communication limited, the applicants did not comply with the order of the court.

He specifically pointed out that the order of the court directing the applicant to publish the ex-parte order was not obeyed, therefore the respondent was not aware of the order of the court until, Ecobank wrote a letter to the company to intimate it of the said order.

Mrs Owa also averred that the subject account was opened by Ecobank Nigeria upon instructions given by MTN on October 9, 2007 and that MTN has operated the account since then till date in accordance with banking practice applicable to current account held by corporate bodies in Nigeria.

She also claimed that the order has adversely affected the smooth running of the business of MTN as it finds it difficult to utilize the funds held in the account in pursuit of its lawful business.

She further maintained that the funds are not suspected proceeds of unlawful activity; therefore urge the court to discharge the order.

MTN’s application to discharge the order was accompanied with affidavit of urgency and application urging the court to hear the case during Christmas vacation, consequently no further date has been fixed for hearing.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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NCC: US Delegation‎ Visits Commission, Lauds Regulatory Strides

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(L-R): Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC; Rachel Atwood Mendiola, Manager, U.S Embassy; Engr. Ubale Ahmed Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC; Mudari Aliyu Dura

 

Nigerian Communications Commission NCC, Thursday, received a delegation from the United States Embassy in Abuja,

The team, led by Rachel Atwood Mendiola, Fraud Prevention Manager, United States Embassy, was received by the Commission’s Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive, Prof. Umar Danbatta and other top Management staff of the Commission.

The delegation was at the Nigerian Communications Commission’s Head Office to gain insight into the workings of the Commission and to commend NCC’s Management for its regulatory strides in sustaining the growth of the telecommunication industry in Nigeria.

 

Prof.Danbatta while addressing the delegation, recalled to the admiration of his guests some of the Commission’s efforts in ensuring effective regulation of the telecoms sector and providing an enabling environment for telecoms services to flourish, exponentially attributing the Commission’s successes to the faith reposed on it by the consumers and their unflinching loyalty.

 

And that is, the reason the Commission commits itself irrevocably to protecting the interest of consumers and all stakeholders in the industry.

He told his guests that, “NCC continues to be a strategic member and active participant in the activities of many bodies including the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), African Telecommunications Union (ATU), and the West Africa Telecommunication Regulators Assembly (WATRA).”

To demonstrate the resilience of the telecommunication sector even in the face of challenging economic climate, Danbatta stayed that the sector contributed about 9.5% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in the second quarter of 2017 and credited the Nigerian telecom consumers with the successes recorded because of their patronage.

The EVC/CEO of NCC said it is the faith the consumers have demonstrated in the sector that made the Management of the Commission to declare the 2017 as the Year of the Telecom Consumer to celebrate the primacy of the consumer and to rededicate itself to addressing the challenges of the consumer.

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NCC Ignores Telcos, Says No to OTT Regulation

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Prof Umar Garuba Danbatta, NCC’s executive vice chairman

Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC] has said it can’t regulate Over The Top Technology [OTT] for now, refusing the telecom operators’ call that the technology be regulated in the country.

 

OTT operators are firms like Facebook, WhatsApp, 2go, Instagram and others who ride on social media to reach their audience.

 

Prof Umar Garuba Danbatta, NCC’s executive vice chairman disclosed this Thursday when a delegation from the United States [US] embassy paid a working visit to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

 

‘’ The operators are saying we should do something about the OTT. That the OTT is riding on their infrastructure to make money and all other. But it will be very difficult to regulate OTT,” Prof Danbatta said.

 

According to him, though NCC understands the operators’ plight ‘’ the truth is that there is nothing we can do for now’’.

 

The NCC EVC, said he had interacted with head of telecom industry’s regulatory agencies in US and some other advanced economies and he was indirectly told that OTT couldn’t be regulated for now.

 

He also said NCC couldn’t regulate content in the social media as this falls within the jurisdiction of its sister regulatory agency, the National Broadcasting Commission [NBC].

 

He also told the US embassy delegation which was led by Rachael Atwood Mendiola to convince US investors to come and invest in Nigeria’s telecom industry as this is the best time to stake their money in the country.

 

‘’We want investors to come and invest in telecoms infrastructure across the country. I believe they will make their money in no time. Our investment environment is becoming friendlier, our security has improved greatly and the Federal Government had promised some number of incentives for would-be investors.

 

‘’ Plus we still have access gap. We still have about 200 locations across the country yet to have telecom services. This has cut off about 40million people, including people in my local government in Kano. So, investors can come in and take this opportunities.’’, he said.

 

But he said the NCC was working to see the access gaps blocked in the next two years.

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Nigeria to Increase Mobile Broadband Subscriptions to 50% by 2020

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NCC headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria

By peter oluka

Nigeria has disclosed plans to increasing the current coverage of the active mobile broadband subscription per 100 from 20.95 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.

This was disclosed by Mr Bolaji Akinremi, minister plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN, while delivering Nigeria’s statement on ‘Information and Communications Technologies for Development’ at the UN General Assembly’s debate in New York.

Active mobile broadband subscription is the number of subscriptions to mobile cellular networks with access to data communications – like the Internet – at broadband downstream speeds of 256 kilobit per second.

Nigeria’s mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants increased from 1.0 inhabitant in 2012 to 11.7 inhabitants in 2016.

Akinremi said Nigeria recognised the direct impact of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) on the wellbeing of Nigerians.

“The Government of Nigeria recognises the reality that Information and Communications Technologies has direct impact on the nation’s ability to improve the economic wellbeing of its people.

“The Government of Nigeria is committed to facilitating universal availability and cost-effective access to communications infrastructure and promoting utilisation of ICT in all spheres of life.

“Nigeria is committed to achieving cutting-edge global ICT standards, encourage rapid ICT penetration among all socio-economic levels.

“The Government of Nigeria is also committed to increasing the current coverage of the active mobile broadband subscription per 100 from 20.95 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.

“Nigeria is committed to promoting and encouraging local production of ICT hard and software so as to reduce import dependence and generate foreign exchange by exporting to the regional and continental markets”.

He said that involving developing countries in the ICT revolution would bridge the wide gap of access to information among people.

According to him, if the information gap keeps widening, the possibility of attaining sustainable development by 2030 is not certain.

“It is in this vein that Nigeria further calls on Member States to consider giving Information and Communications Technologies a pride of place in the education curriculum. By so doing, they will undoubted bridge the digital divide,” Akinremi added.

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