EX-Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Emeka Mba, and 10 former board members have written to the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, to ask for separate timelines to appear for interrogation.
They insisted that there was no scandal on the payment of 10 percent broker fees of about N3.4 billion to a Technology Adviser.
For the first time, they opened up on how 700Mhz spectrum was sold to MTN
The EFCC invited Mba and nine others to explain payment of the 10 per cent fees before receiving presidential approval.
Others invited by the EFCC 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 Damam (representative of the Ministry of Information).
But the former 10 NBC chiefs and the Technology Adviser, Basil Udotai, insisted they did not commit any fraud while in office.
They made their position known through their counsel, Mr. O.J. Onoja (SAN), in the April 26, 2016, letter to EFCC chairman.
The letter said : “There is and was no scam in the N3.4 billion or in any amount that our clients are aware of. Specifically in relation to Technology Advisors, a proposal was submitted to NBC, which was brought up to the members of the commission for review.
“The salient aspects of the proposal 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 proceed with the assignment as presented but that the fees of 20 per cent demanded should be reduced to 10 per cent.”
They said there was no basis for MTN to know the Technology Adviser.
The letter added: “Our clients failed to see or understand the need for this as an issue. Technology Advisors were not hired by MTN.
“The firm was hired by NBC. Why does MTN need to know Technology Advisors, except as lawyers to NBC?
“The Technology Advisors confirmed that they informed EFCC investigators that in their dealings with MTN during the special auction phase of the transaction, and afterwards in negotiating and drafting the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) license agreement, etc they interacted at the executive level of the telecoms company, principally with Mr. Akinwale Goodluck, former Executive Director, Corporate Services; Mr. Michael Ikpoki, former Managing Director; Mr. Quasim Odunmbaku, Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs; as well as Mr. Mena Ajakpovi of the law firm of Abraham & Co., who represented MTN as external solicitors, and Mr. Oliver Nnona, as consultant to MTN. “
They insisted that the N3.4 billion was not brokerage fees as claimed by EFCC.
They said: “Whoever came up with the notion of brokerage fee must either not understand the transaction or is mischievously forcing strange concepts into an otherwise clear transaction for which the then members of the commission were approached for approval.
“The fees, as our clients understood it, was for legal services before, during and after the funding process – including but not limited to preparation of the memoranda and documentation for the approval of the minister and the President; formulating the framework for competitive bidding, within the limits allowed by the NBC Act and the regulations (described as Special Auction), negotiating and drafting the Licence Agreement and other legal documentations with the successful licensee, and continue to work to assist the NBC clarify legal or regulatory issues that may come up post-licensing, and manage all legal risks that may arise in the transaction phase of the project as Transactions Attorney, etc.
Notwithstanding, they asked for separate timelines to face EFCC investigators because some of the NBC chiefs are abroad.
The letter said: “In view of the foregoing, our clients have instructed us to demand that the EFCC accords them extension of time to appear in the following order:
“Those who have received their invitation and are available in Nigeria may attend on the date of their invitation, if convenient;
- Those within Nigeria but yet to receive their invitations should be accorded at least one week notice to appear, in the hope that the letter of invitation would have been received within that time; and
- Those outside Nigeria, whether or not they receive their invitation, should be accorded the benefit of their travel time and allowed to appear only when they return to the country.”