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Privatisation: Senate summon bank over alleged N41bn NITEL, MTEL fraud



Privatisation: Senate summon bank over alleged N41bn NITEL, MTEL fraud

Senate on Tuesday summoned the United Bank for Africa, UBA, over alleged fraud of of N41billion of the liquidated Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL.

According to senate, the bank withdrew about N41billion from N42billion, the fund liquidators of the telecommunications company deposited in the bank after being sold to MTEL.

Chairman of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP Ondo Central), made the allegation on the strength of petitions forwarded to it to that effect by J .U Ayogu and Co. on behalf of NITEL/MTEL.

Consequently, the chairman has summoned the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of UBA, Kennedy Uzoka to appear before the committee over the alleged fraud unfailingly on August 5, 2020.

Senator Akinyelure, who briefed journalists over the allegations in Abuja, said UBA made unauthorized withdraws from the accounts of the liquidated telecommunications companies four different times in technically stealing N41billion out of N42billion liquidators of the forms deposited there.

According to him, as clearly stated and explained in the petition , UBA withdrew N29billion, N11billion, N6.8million and N22million at different times between 2006 and 2015 from the accounts without relevant tickets or authorizations for that purpose.

He added that liquidators of the firms explained further in the petition that officials of UBA have been hiding under litigated N685million it withdrew from the accounts .

“Being a committee adhering strictly to Senate rules, the litigated N685million is not part of what the UBA is being invited for despite even losing to NITEL liquidators at both the Federal High Court and Appeal Courts.

“The committee’s right of investigation under Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution will be exercised to the fullest on this matter because the owners of the stolen monies by UBA are dying,” he said.

Akinyelure explained further that UBA promised to provide tickets that they would provide the tickets for the withdrawal of N22.5billion withdrawn from the NITEL accounts without authorisation.

He said: “A human rights lawyer had sent a petition on behalf of the liquidators and creditors of NITEL and MTEL, that if the N685m is a subject of litigation, there is a third account meant for taxation and disasters which has N169million.

Privatisation: Senate summon bank over alleged N41bn NITEL, MTEL fraud

“It was also unilaterally withdrawn by the UBA. Seven years after the withdrawal, they’ve not provided the tickets, instead, they were asking the liquidators to get the tickets from the dead liquidators, which is wrong. They had yet to provide the tickets.

“In another accounts which had N29billion, UBA also, unilaterally withdrew the money from NITEL accounts without authorization tickets. Most of the creditors of NITEL have sued the liquidators that they’ve collected money from the UBA without paying them.

“The human rights lawyer wrote on behalf of the dying creditors to the Senate for legislative interventions.

“There is another MTEL account N11billion withdrawn by the UBA and it has not been accounted for till today.

“The creditors don’t have money to go to court because they are already bankrupt. They sued UBA over the N685m and they won at the Federal High Court, Appeal Court and the Supreme Court. Up till today, they didn’t respect the court judgement by not paying the liquidators.

“When the Senate wrote the UBA management, they responded that the matter was in court. The Senate is hereby insisting that the matter is not sub-judice, and we are calling on them to appear before us on August 5, 2020.

“The Group Managing Director should come and explain how the other funds withdrawn was before the court. They are owing the NITEL and MTEL over N41billion and they should come and explain to Nigerians.”

It would be recalled that the federal government after many years of looking for buyers, eventually sold NITEL/ MTEL in July 2006 to Transcorp for $750million.

Transcorp, a Nigerian multi-national, multi-sectoral conglomerate emerged the winner in a negotiated bid, beating six other companies to the sale.

The then chairman of TransCorp, Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, said the company would invest over $1bn to turn NITEL and MTEL around and that TransCorp had secured €1billion at four per cent interest from the European Union Development Council, EUDC to fund the acquisition at a minimum cost.

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