The Nigerian Senate has summoned the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, the father of Niger State governor, Colonel Sani Bello and 12 others to appear before it next week over alleged collaboration with Mobile Telecommunication Network of Nigeria’s (MTN’s) $13.9billion illegally remitted to South-Africa between 2006 and 2016.
Recall that Dino Melaye, a Senator representing Kogi-West Senatorial District on September 27, 2016 at the floor of the Upper Chamber alleged that MTN Nigeria had repatriated $13.9 billion from Nigeria to other countries between 2006 and now with the help of a serving minister and some banks.
Melaye, who stated this as the Senate began a probe into allegations that MTN Nigeria had taken money out of Nigeria illegally, said that Stanbic IBTC, allegedly helped the firm to transfer $4.87 billion; Standard Chartered Bank, $5.72 billion; Citi Bank, $2.98 billion; and Diamond Bank, $0.35billion.
The lawmaker stated that he had documentary evidences to back his claims, some of which he brought to the floor of the chamber and said would be made available for investigation.
He said, “The Senate observes that MTN did not request for the Certificate of Capital Importation from its bankers, Standard Chartered Bank, within the regulatory period of 24 hours of the inflow. The Senate observes also that the CBN was not notified of this inflow by Standard Chartered Bank within 48 hours of receipt and conversion of the proceeds to naira as required by regulation.
“It further observes that the sum of $117,683,987bn was also brought in by MTN between 2001 and 2003 in three different tranches. It is concerned that since inception, MTN had sought the collaboration of influential and unpatriotic Nigerians to assist them in looting our external reserves.”
The Nigerians, Melaye added, included a serving minister, who he said MTN allegedly used in moving $13.92bn out of Nigeria, which was over 50 per cent of the country’s external reserves, to floated and incorporated offshore Special Purpose Vehicles in the Cayman Island, Mauritius and British Virgin Island.
The senator listed the names of the SPVs, their promoters/shareholders and their share loan between MTN South Africa as: Cel Telephone Investment Limited, Port Louis, Mauritius; Dr. Pascal Dozie and Dr. Okechuckwu Elenemah; $20,749,532; Celtel funded shares SPV (which was renamed NISPV Limited in 2008), Port Louis, Mauritius; Dr. Pascal Dozie, Ahmed Dasuki, Gbenga Oyebode, Babatunde Folawiyo and Dr. Okechukwu Elenemah, $2,019,232.
Others are Mobile Communication Investment Limited, Port Louis, Mauritius; Mohammed Sanni Bello; $3,862,985; Mobile Communication Holdings, Port Louis, Mauritius; Mohammed Sanni Bello; $3,454,102; Hermitage Overseas Corporation Limited; Victor Odili; $10,273,986; SASPV Limited and Ahmed Dasuki, $10,058,991.
So far, MTN Nigeria has refuted as “completely unfounded” the allegations by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the company illegally repatriated $13.92 billion out of Nigeria over a period of 10 years.
MTN Group Corporate Affairs unit in a press statement issued by the Group refuted the report saying, “MTN’s attention has been drawn to various media reports containing allegations of improper repatriation of money out of Nigeria by the company. The reports refer to allegations made on the floor of the Senate that MTN had illegally repatriated $13.92 billion out of Nigeria over a period of 10 years in collusion with a number of commercial banks.
According to MTN Nigeria CEO, Ferdi Moolman, “The allegations made against MTN are completely unfounded and without any merit”.
It is against this background that the Senate mandated its Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions to probe the minister, MTN, the banks and other Nigerians said to have benefitted from the deal.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (APC, Kwara South) had earlier listed Dr. Pascal Dozie, Ahmed Dasuki, Gbenga Oyebode, Babatunde Folawiyo and Victor Odili as those to appear before it.
Aside MTN and the affected banks, other corporate organisations summoned, are Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria.
The Committee said the summoning of the affected persons and organisations was sequel to the Senate resolution over ” Unscruplous Violation of the foreign exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Act through a motion moved to that effect by Dino Melaye.