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Real Reasons Why Buhari Sacked NBC Boss, Emeka Mba … How He got into trouble

 

Emek Mba
Emeka Mba

That President Muhammudu Buhari recently sacked the Director General of National Broadcasting Commission, Mr. Emeka Mba and other 25 Director-Generals, Managing Director of agencies and department of Government is no longer news.

What is perhaps news is the reason why they were booted out of office unceremoniously. The reason is not far-fetched.

According to the National Chairman of All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, they were sacked because they compromised in the discharge of their duties.

Oyegun may not be far from the truth as the former Director General of NBC, Mr. Emeka Mba may have indeed compromised while while he was helmsman of NBC and this may be one of the reasons operatives of Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) over suspicion that the commission under his watch made the federal government to lose huge funds.

It was alleged that the commission under Mba illegally sold a public broadcasting spectrum worth N34billion to one of the telecoms companies and the amount was not properly accounted for. Stakeholders allege that the sale did not follow due process and was not transparent, as it gave an edge to a company, which is a major GSM player in Nigeria.

It was gathered that the commission aided abetted one of the Dasukigate to secure a major job because of his closeness to the last administration. NBC was said to have stood guaranty for the said company to secure the acquisition of digital broadcast facilities ahead of other Nigerian stations and secret award of contracts without following due process to the chargrin of the government.

Before the EFCC arrested Mba, A group known as the Integrity Youths has called on President Muhammed  Buhari to investigate the Director General of National Broadcasting Commission(NBC) Mr. Emeka Mba over the controversial sale of the 700MHz spectrum, a national frequency  meant for telecommunications services, to telecoms giant, MTN Nigeria, for N34 billion. The group stated that this was allegedly done without authority as industry sources maintain that the NBC cannot sell what does not belong to it. Investigations show that the spectrum is rightfully the property of the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC). NFMC is said to allocate spectrum to Government regulators in this case the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and NBC. Both NBC and NCC in turn assigns frequencies to their licensees. When any spectrum is withdrawn from licensees it reverts to the regulator which in turn returns the spectrum to NFMC. It is only NFMC that has the authority to sell by public auction the spectrum that NBC now purports to sell without due process.

It will be recall that Mr Ojie Panama, a Senior Partner at a firm, Integrated Network Management Consultants, had recently blown the lid off the deal, urging that the spectrum be returned to the NFMC and calling on the Federal Government to carry out a thorough investigation into the matter with a view to punishing those involved in the infraction.

The group maintained that the era where things were done with total disrespect for the rule of law and impunity was over.

“The era of impunity is gone. We should not encourage Rule of Thumb or Rule of Power as against Rule of law. It is when we abide by these rules that we can say we now have positive change in Nigeria”

Predictably, the NBC under the watch of its Director-General, Mr Emeka Mba, defended the action. The NBC boss claimed that the spectrum was still under the control of NBC at the time it was sold, and that the licensing was handled transparently as part of the commission’s convergence service. He did not, however, respond to the allegation that the NBC did not have any authority to conduct such sale which was also carried out in secrecy and without compliance with the procurement laws of NIGERIA.

The President of Integrity Youths, Comrade Joseph Akpan maintained that NBC’s defense of what is obviously a flagrant violation of the law is a daring attempt at justifying illegality. He added assuming the NBC has legal authorisation to sell the spectrum, did it follow through with the necessary bidding process? Where was it bidded for and how many companies submitted their bids?

“The outright sale to MTN Nigeria is a disincentive to other investors, particularly as they could have come up with better bids in an open and transparent process. Certainly, a situation where eligibility of bidders is not authenticated prior to opening bids, and where bidders are not subjected to post-qualification test, where the accuracy of submitted document is ascertained, is obviously questionable.”

“The kind of private sale that the NBC engaged in while ignoring other competitors in the country’s telecommunications market pollutes the business atmosphere. The transaction is made worse because it chose not to carry the NFMC along in the deal, cashing in on the country’s failure to achieve digital switch over to handle an issue clearly beyond its constitutional purview”. Akpan SubmittedIn a related development, the NBC was recently sued by a signal distribution firm, Pinnacle Communications Limited over the alleged breach of license agreement

In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/897/2014, the plaintiff named the NBC, its director-general, Emeka MBA, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), MTS Communications, Details Nigeria Limited and NTA-Star Network Limited as 1st to 6th defendants.

In the writ of summons brought pursuant to Order 6 Rule 1 (2) and (8), filed, Pinnacle Communications Limited is demanding among others, “damages in the sum of N1,274, 076, 000 (One Trillion, Two Hundred and Seventy-Four Billion, Seventy-Six Naira), being loss of earnings and profits accruing to the plaintiff arising from the alleged breaches by the 1st and 2nd defendants.

“An order directing the 1st defendant to refund the sum of N618, 750, 000, being fee paid by the plaintiff for the purported terrestrial digital signal license issued by the 1st defendant contrary to the draft license contained in the request for proposal which formed the basis of the open bid process between the plaintiff and the 1st defendant.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 4th, 5th and 6th defendants by themselves, subsidiaries, servants, officers, agents and any person or body acting for them or under them, from carrying or purporting to carry and distribute any terrestrial digital signal in Nigeria.

“A declaration that by section 2 of the National Broadcasting Commission Act, Laws of the Federation 2004, the 1st defendant is under obligation to implement the policies of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and in particular, the policy contained in the Federal Government of Nigeria’s White Paper dated April 2012 and titled Government White Paper on Transition from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting in Nigeria.

Mba during a press conference said he got the approval to sale same license to other firms from former President Goodluck Jonathan.Mba National WAVES gathered was arrested for allegedly concealing N15 billion that the commission was meant to transfer to the Treasury Single Account (TSA).

The arrest followed a petition against Mba and his management team alleging that they concealed the sum from the federal government despite President Muhammudu Buhari’s directive that all government funds must be transferred to the account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Investigations revealed that the N15billion was part of the N34billion realized from the sale of the 700MHz spectrum band to MTN Nigeria Limited.

Bubble burst when a senior staff of NBC petitioned EFCC, alleging financial misconduct by Mba and his management team.

The petitioner did not mince words when he stated that Mba connived with some senior staff in the Account s department to conceal the said amount from the federal government after the TSA policy was enforced to block leakages.

According to the petition, the money was allegedly concealed by the then leadership of NBC and was moved to the account cooperative society of the commission.

It was learnt that NBC made payments from the account for what was regarded as special projects, while funds were also disbursed to some set –up box manufacturing companies for the digital switch over.

In a swift reaction to the findings, a senior manager of NBC denied the allegation, saying that the contract for the set-up boxes was awarded before the federal government’s directives on TSA. The senior official who confirmed that the money was part of what NBC realized from the sale of spectrum, explained that the sum was provided at a guaranty by a commercial bank, effectively blocking the sum from being transferred to the TSA with the aim of supporting manufacturers of a set-up boxes to aid the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.

In a related development, a communication firm, Pinnacle Communications Limited dragged the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and five other defendants before a Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged breach of license agreement.

Recall that Pinnacle communications Limited emerged the winner of the 2nd Broadcasting Signal Distribution license Network for transition from analogue to digital broadcasting in July, 2014.

In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/897/2014, the plaintiff named the NBC, its director-general, Emeka MBA, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), MTS Communications, Details Nigeria Limited and NTA-Star Network Limited as 1st to 6th defendants.

In the writ of summons brought pursuant to Order 6 Rule 1 (2) and (8), filed, Pinnacle Communications Limited is demanding among others, “damages in the sum of N1,274, 076, 000 (One Trillion, Two Hundred and Seventy-Four Billion, Seventy-Six Naira), being loss of earnings and profits accruing to the plaintiff arising from the breaches by the 1st and 2nd defendants.

“An order directing the 1st defendant to refund the sum of N618, 750, 000, being fee paid by the plaintiff for the purported terrestrial digital signal license issued by the 1st defendant contrary to the draft license contained in the request for proposal which formed the basis of the open bid process between the plaintiff and the 1st defendant.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 4th, 5th and 6th defendants by themselves, subsidiaries, servants, officers, agents and any person or body acting for them or under them, from carrying or purporting to carry and distribute any terrestrial digital signal in Nigeria.

“A declaration that by section 2 of the National Broadcasting Commission Act, Laws of the Federation 2004, the 1st defendant is under obligation to implement the policies of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and in particular, the policy contained in the Federal Government of Nigeria’s White Paper dated April 2012 and titled Government White Paper on Transition from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting in Nigeria.

Mba during a press conference said he got the approval to sale same license to otherbn firm from former President Goodluck Jonathan.

 

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