Sources within the presidency have accused telecoms tycoon of compromising the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta with bribes and promises of presidential intervention to secure his two-year term.
“Hence, Danbatta has shielded Globacom or Glo from regulatory enforcement,” one of the sources said.
In May, SaharaReporters exclusively reported how Isa Ali Pantami, then Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and Sabiu “Tunde” Yusuf, who was former President Muhammadu Buhari’s personal secretary, reportedly colluded to ensure the granting of licences for broadcast frequencies in the 600MHz spectrum band by the NCC in the twilight of the Buhari’s administration.
According to SaharaReporters the move was to grant such licenses to companies linked to their cronies and associates in the Aso Rock Villa, as well as a close ally of Bola Tinubu, who was the president-elect at the time.
A source within the presidency confirmed this to SaharaReporters, adding that Pantami and Tunde Yusuf had also been attempting to shift earnings from sales to private bank accounts, which was another attempt to siphon additional public assets before handing over to the incoming government.
This mischief also included a 50% discount on the licence.
It was gathered that the four licences were issued and shared between Pantami, Tunde, MAFAB Communications, and another company linked to a cabal within the Aso Rock Villa.
In a similar scenario, sources within the presidency have told SaharaReporters that Danbatta in August tricked the current Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, into signing off on a spectrum license trade that violates the one-year operating requirement, and also dispatched his son to India to lobby President Bola Tinubu’s son, Seyi, on his behalf.
NCC Chairman, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta Accused Of Corruption, Taking Of Bribe
One of the sources said, “Since President Tinubu took office, Danbatta has showered those around the Aso Villa with bulletproof cars and cash to secure his position. His recent blunder of allowing Glo to ‘murder’ Nigerians without paying its N200 billion debt is a test of the president’s resolve.
“Upon learning of the presidency’s awareness of his misdeeds, Danbatta issued a fake threat to his staff to suspend all regulatory services to Glo. The question is, why did he not do so in May when the money was due?
“This story is a cause for concern because it suggests that Adenuga is using his wealth and power to evade his financial obligations to the government. It is also a cause for concern that Danbatta is using his position to protect Adenuga instead of upholding the law. His bribery of those around the Villa further suggests that he is trying to buy influence.”
However, efforts to reach the Mr Arinze Anapugars, Senior Manager, Communications for Globacom, were not successful as he neither answered his calls nor replied to the text message sent to him.
In October 2021, SaharaReporters reported how Conpurex, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mike Adenuga’s oil and gas conglomerate ConOil was being pursued by creditors for a combined debt of about $7 million by a foreign company and a local company.
In 2016, ConOil was pursued by creditors for a debt of over $140.5 million owed to two foreign companies and one local company.
Depthwize, a drilling contractor based in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, said it was owed more than US$6,248,441.27 ($6.2 million) by Conpurex, making it unable to pay its US partner Megadrill.
After it exceeded 365 days, Megadrill hired New Orleans law firm, Jones Walker, to recover the funds from ConOil, SaharaReporters learnt.
A letter by Attorney John Duveilh to Erekata Julius, Chief Financial Officer at ConOil, said: “It is not the desire of Megadrill or Depthwize to produce a drawn-out legal battle, but rather simply get paid for work already performed and contractually owed. However, if Conpurex refuses to meet their contractual obligations, and the amount is not paid immediately, Megadrill will be forced to take appropriate actions.”
The Lagos headquarters of Depthwize also wrote to Conpurex to warn that the non-payment of its invoices was significantly hampering its operations, leaving it unable to renew the insurance cover on its assets.
Uche Dimiri, Depthwize’s CEO, in the letter dated August 16 said: “As of today, we have a total of US$6,248,441.27 dollars due and unpaid ageing over 365 days.
“Importantly, and sadly so, as an organisation, we have been unable to renew the insurance cover on our operating assets because of a liquidity squeeze attributable in large parts to your non-payment of our invoices. We cannot overemphasize the negative impact this situation is having on our ongoing operations.”
Zukus Industries Limited, an oil and gas services contractor, had written to ConOil three times in 2021 over outstanding invoices due from 2017 and 2018 totalling N317,750,268.09 (about $700, 000).
Its first letter of March 3, 2021, signed by Uzor and addressed to the Managing Director, Con Oil Producing Limited, was titled: ‘Demand For Payment of Outstanding Invoices.’
It read, “Our letter dated 13th November with reference no: ZIL/WAR/093; 5th August 2019 with reference no: ZIL/WAR/093/19; mail of 30th May 2019; mail of 15th October 2019, letter dated 5th February 2020 with reference no: ZIL/WAR/1033/20 and several phone calls refers (Copies of letters attached as Appendices II-VI).
“We write to request for payment of our outstanding invoices long overdue for payment from 13/12/2017 to 08/12/2018, totalling Three Hundred and Seventeen Million Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand, Two Hundred and Sixty-Eight Naira Nine Kobo (N317,750,268.09) only.
“When needed without failure, we have offered to your company; community settlements were promptly handled for speedy execution of jobs. The delay in prompt payment of these bills has had a tremendous effect on our operations. We are going through intense periods owing to our inability to meet up with creditors’ indebtedness and bank loan repayment.”
Zukus Industries Limited’s second letter to ConOil in 2021 also stressed the need for the latter to pay its debt, adding that the “outstanding covers the work done by Zukus Industries Limited for ConOil Producing Limited between 2017 and 2018, as far back as four years ago”.
In September 2021, Nigeria’s tax authority FIRS sealed off the offices of ConOil at the Mike Adenuga Towers in Lagos over non-payment of taxes.
The government’s Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had also reportedly placed a garnishee order on ConOil’s bank accounts to the tune of US$30 million dollars.