Senate to probe serving minister, MTN, others over alleged $12bn capital flight

The Senate is to probe an allegation that a serving minister, the telecommunications giant, MTN Nigeria and four commercial banks had colluded to engage in capital flight to the tune of over $12 billion.

The allegation, raised by Senator Dino Melaye, at the Tuesday sitting, indicated that the unnamed minister, the banks and the telecommunications giant facilitated the secret movement of the said sum out of the country, thereby contributing to the fall in the value of the Naira.

The resolve to probe the allegation was sequel to a motion moved by Senator Melaye, which alleged fraud in the conduct of the unnamed serving minister.

Raising Order 42 of the Senate Standing Orders 2015, as amended, Melaye alleged that telecommunications company, in connection with some well-placed Nigerians, one of whom he said was now a serving minister, had, in the last 10 years moved the sum of $12 billion from the nation’s economy.

The senator said: “Mr President, I seek the indulgence of this House to move that after this short presentation, this matter be allowed to be taken on the next legislative day. My respected colleagues, MTN Nigeria paid a sum of $284.9 million on the 6th of February, 2001 to purchase their license of operations in this country.

“I want to say, with facts, which by the grace of God I will make available on the next legislative day if this motion is allowed, to all senators to see evidence that between 2006 and 2016, through four Nigerian banks and, indeed, a serving minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and some other fraudulent Nigerians. MTN has moved over $12 billion out of Nigeria and that is about half of our external reserves.

“If I get the nod of the Senate, I will want to bring a substantive motion on Tuesday, the next legislative day, with substantiated facts to buttress this position.”

The Senate subsequently granted the prayer and thus would receive details of the submissions by Melaye on Tuesday.

While approving the motion, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, said: “Distinguished colleagues, according to our rules, Order 42, Senator Melaye raised this issue and he needs to get the leave of the Senate to bring it down to the next legislative day which he has now done.”