A powerful cabal allegedly in collusion with the immediate former Executive Vice Chairman of Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta and his son is pushing to divert part of the spectrum licence fees recently paid to the Nigerian government, SaharaReporters has learnt.
Sources told SaharaReporters on Wednesday that the cabal is pushing to divert from established protocols N35 billion from the N154 billion spectrum licence fees paid by the telecommunication giant.
Meanwhile, Danbatta’s son has been purportedly fraternizing with President Bola Tinubu’s son, Seyi, who has cut a controversial figure and has been in the news lately for the wrong reasons.
For instance, Seyi recently attracted public outrage for flying a jet in the presidential fleet on a private trip with friends to Kano State to watch a polo tournament.
SaharaReporters earlier in October reported that Mike Adenuga, founder and owner of Globacom Limited, one of the biggest telecommunication companies in Nigeria, had paid N154 billion to the Nigerian government, which was part of the spectrum license renewal fees for the company.
The payment came a few weeks after the newspaper exposed the company as owing about N200 billion to the government.
SaharaReporters on September 21 reported that sources within the presidency accused the telecoms tycoon of compromising the then-Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Danbatta with bribes and promises of presidential intervention to secure his two-year term.
“After SaharaReporters’ report on Globacom which broke the back of the horse, Mike Adenuga has paid the government N154 billion with the remaining outstanding to be paid,” an authoritative source said.
“Additionally, it is confirmed that the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Danbatta is to leave his current position in the coming days.”
However, last Wednesday, the same day SaharaReporters confirmed the payment of N154 billion to government coffers by Globacom, President Tinubu sacked Danbatta as the EVC of NCC along with the CEOs of other agencies under the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovations, and Digital Economy with immediate effect.
Apart from Danbatta, the President also sacked the Nigerian Postal Service’s Sunday Adepoju and Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited’s Tukur Funtua.
Aminu Maida was named as the new Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, in place of Danbatta.
Meanwhile, sources in the Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and the Digital Economy told SaharaReporters that the cabal was also scheming to mislead the minister, ‘Bosun Tijani, to buy into their plan.
One of the sources said, “In a recent revelation that has sent shockwaves through the corridors of power, it has come to light that a concerted effort is underway to manipulate the utilization of funds derived from a significant financial transaction involving Globacom Chairman and the Nigerian government.
“The intricate narrative unfolds with the exposé by SR, exposing the reluctance of the Glo chairman to remit a substantial sum of N200 billion to the Nigerian government, ostensibly due to alleged affiliations with the then EVC Danbatta. Succumbing to pressure, he ultimately paid 154 billion, which SR made known to the public last week.
“This convoluted saga takes a disconcerting turn with the emergence of a cabal, allegedly in collusion with Danbatta and his son, who has been purportedly fraternizing with the President’s son.
“Reports indicate that this influential group is orchestrating a scheme to mislead Minister Bosun into submitting a memo to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the allocation of N35 billion from the funds paid by Adenuga.”
According to one of the sources, the new EVC is in the dark and not aware of the plan to divert N35 billion from established protocols.
The source said, “The intended purpose is the Digital Switchover (DSO), an arena overseen by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) under the Ministry of Information.
“Questions arise as to the deviation from constitutional provisions mandating funds to be directed into the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
“Instead, the proposed plan raises suspicions of ulterior motives, with a selected company purportedly positioned to share in the proceeds.
“Pertinently, concerns linger regarding the absence of consultation with the new Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC on this and whether the fear of an unfavourable response prompted the detour towards FEC.
“In the interest of transparency and public accountability, it is imperative that Minister Bosun, the Ministry of Communications, and relevant stakeholders address these pressing concerns.
“The Nigerian public deserves clarity on the intended course of action, the justification for the diversion from established protocols, and reassurance that the principles of good governance and constitutional provisions are upheld.
“This revelation invites closer scrutiny of the intricacies surrounding the utilization of public funds, underscoring the need for an earnest and impartial investigation into the unfolding narrative.
“The citizens of Nigeria, ever vigilant and discerning, await comprehensive explanations to dispel any shadows cast upon the integrity of the process.
In May 2023, 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.
SaharaReporters had learnt that the move was to grant such licences 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 had 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.
In a similar scenario, sources within the presidency had 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 Tinubu’s son, Seyi, on his behalf.
One of the sources had 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.”