A group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda Resource Centre (HEDA), has invoked Freedom of Information (FoI) Act on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), urging it for detailed information on the alleged resolution between the apex bank and MTN, the telecommunication giant in the country, on the charges of improper repatriation of about $8.13billion.
HEDA’s chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraj, disclosed this at the weekend in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos, expressing worry about what he termed the wide margin between the reported final payment and the alleged charged sum.
According to him, the reported gap has left the public puzzled as to the procedure and steps taken to arrive at the resolution between the CBN and MTN, saying that it was on the above basis that we his group was making this request from the Apex bank.
“We believe that the records and details of the said resolution made available will aid the investigations of our organisation, thus this application is brought pursuant to the provisions of Section 2, 3, and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011,” HEDA boss said.
HEDA recalled that a national daily had on 4th of September, 2018 reported online that the Central Bank of Nigeria sometimes in 2018 revealed that MTN Nigeria illegally repatriated foreign exchange of about $8.13billion with irregularly issued Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) by some commercial banks namely; Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank, Diamond bank and Stanbic IBTC bank and also converted its shareholders’ loan to Preference shares without fulfilling the requisite conditions.
It equally recalled that on 6th September, 2018 that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubaka Malami gave a 14-day ultimatum to the affected banks and the telecommunication company to pay the fine awarded against them by the CBN vide a letter that originated from his office dated the 3rd of September, 2018.
“Sequel to this, the affected banks were sanctioned by the Federal Government and appropriate fines were paid by the banks,” the group said, adding that report later indicated that the alleged charge of improper repatriation levelled against MTN Nigeria has been resolved to the tune of $52.6 Million as against $8.13billion earlier reported as the fine to be paid by the telecommunication company.
“There seems to be a wide margin between the reported final payment and the alleged charged sum which has left the public puzzled as to the procedure and steps taken to arrive at the resolution.
“It is on the above basis that we are making this request, as we believe that the records and details of the said resolution made available will aid the investigations of our Organisation, thus this application is brought pursuant to the provisions of Section 2, 3, and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011,” HEDA said.
The group, therefore, concluded, saying: “We look forward to your utmost cooperation and the prompt response to this requested information and in any event, within seven (7) days of the receipt of this application as provided for under the Freedom of Information Act.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of HEDA, Mr Suraj, has challenged the Federal Government to pursue rigorously the various cases in court on the controversial deep-water oil bloc OPL 245 deal popularly known as Malabu scandal worth $1.1bn.
For the umpteenth time, the Federal Government was yesterday challenged to pursue rigorously the various cases in court on the controversial deep-water oil bloc OPL 245 deal popularly known as Malabu scandal worth $1.1bn, describing described the scandal as an international embarrassment.
Suraj made the call at an interactive session with newsmen with focus on global anti-corruption campaign/asset recovery. The session was organized by the MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with HEDA.
HEDA in conjunction with Global Witness, RE: Common and The Corner House had jointly presented a report which suggested that Nigerian stands to lose about $6bn from the controversial deal.
Both Royal Dutch Shell and Eni, Italian oil giant, along with a number of their senior executives have faced lawsuits over role in the infamous OPL245 scandal.
Speaking on the development, Suraj warned against going into any out-of-court settlement that would affect the ongoing trials instituted by the Nigerian government against Shell and Eni, adding that any corporate out-of-court settlement should not cover the criminal aspect of the deal.
“We are not opposed to out-of-court settlement but certain conditions must be met. It should not confer legitimacy on an illegal deal,” he said, noting that “the Malabu deal wasn’t struck in the interest of Nigeria because while $1.1bn went into private accounts, Nigeria got $250m whereas if the contract had been transparently done, Nigeria stands to benefit $5.6bn.”