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Nitel/Mtel: Creditors drag liquidator before FRC, PACAC

Years after the eventual disposal of moribund first national carrier, Nitel/Mtel, formal complaints continue to mount over the transaction.

Creditors of liquidated Nitel/Mtel have dragged Otunba Olutola Senbore, liquidator of the corporation before the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) and Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) over what they described as lack of accountability in the payment of their claims.

Some time ago, National Association of Nigerian Auctioneers complained about the manner in which non core assets of the telecom company was diasposed.

In a petition, signed by a representative of the creditors, Mr. Sebagen Henry Noboh and dated October 20, 2016, they accused the Liquidator of paying only 16.5 percent of the amount stated in his offer letters to individual creditors, leaving a balance of 83.5 percent unaccounted for.

The offer letters, dated May 12, 2015 were personally signed by the Liquidator.

They added that the 16.5 percent was paid to them in two installments of 15 percent in May 2015; and 1.5 percent in July 2016, an interval of 14 months.

At issue is the N51, 648, 643, 000 proceeds from the sale of the core assets of Nitel/Mtel to Natcom Consortium for $252.25 million by the last administration.

The Consortium had fully paid up since March 2015, but the creditors are still struggling to get their money from the Liquidator, more than 18 months after he received the money.

The Liquidator had fixed the amounts payable to each of the about 300 creditors based on available funds, in line with the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 1990.

One of the issues raised was the decision of the Liquidator to be paying them in piecemeal, stating that it was in clear violation of provisions of the CAMA Act.

They expressed fears about the safety of the funds and the probability of the Liquidator releasing the 83.5 percent balance without intervention from the relevant monitoring agencies.

Also affected are the various consultants to the creditors whose cheque the Liquidator has refused to release, despite legally contracted agreement documents said to be in his possession.

The petition added, “We urgently seek the intervention of the FRCN for independent examination of the Liquidator’s account records, because he has remained evasive since July.

“We also believe that the outcome of PACAC’s investigation might give President Muhammadu Buhari a clue into certain tendencies that have cast doubts on the credibility of the exercise.

“Findings by the two bodies may as well form the basis for appropriate follow-up action with the relevant economic and financial crime law enforcement agencies.

“For now, we can only appeal to FRCN and PACAC to expedite action on this matter before it is too late. We are afraid the safety of the funds in custody of the Liquidator is highly threatened”.