MTN fine: Buhari must clear his name on bribery allegation rocking Presidency – PDP

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Prince Uche Secondus

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to come clean on allegations of corruption and sharp practices that have trailed the recovery of the N1.03trn fine imposed on MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.

It said Buhari and his administration have a lot of questions to answer on how the fine was reduced to N330 billion, particularly on the face of allegations that certain interests in the Presidential Villa, said to be very close to Buhari, allegedly took a bribe of N500 million before the reduction.

In October 2015, Nigeria’s telecoms regulator imposed a fine of N1.04 trillion on MTN Nigeria for not complying with the directive of government on deactivation of unregistered SIM cards.

Newsworth recalls that the fine was also imposed on MTN by the Nigerian government for not disconnecting about 5.1 million unregistered subscribers on its network within the stipulated deadline.

After several appeals and negotiations, including diplomatic interventions by the South African government, the fine was reduced to N330 billion out of which NCC said MTN had paid N165 billion.

PDP’s national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, said Buhari and his administration have a lot of questions to answer on how the fine was reduced to N330 billion.

The main opposition party said this is also in the face of allegations that certain interests in the Presidential villa, “close to President Buhari”, allegedly took a bribe of N500 million before the reduction was approved.

According to Ologbondiyan, “It is, to say the least, disgusting that while this allegation of bribery at the Villa has remained uncleared by the Presidency, President Buhari, the same African Union (AU) Anti-Corruption Champion, on Wednesday, approved the frittering of another N500 million from the same fund, under controversial claims of professional fees to unnamed persons for unspecified services.

“For a government that prides itself as fighting corruption, the nation had long expected Mr. President to clear the air on the sordid allegation of bribery in the Presidential Villa. Rather than progressing in that direction, President Buhari has continued to act as if the demand by Nigerians, to know the truth about the alleged bribery in the villa over the payment of MTN fine, does not matter”.

The PDP further challenges President Buhari to come out clear on the basis for the purported N500million professional fee. What due process instruments did he rely upon? Who are these lawyers? Who contracted them; under what terms and what services did they render that was beyond the Attorney General of the Federation and the team of lawyers at the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and the Ministry of Justice?

It added,  “Now that it has become clear that the Buhari Presidency is entangled in sleazes over the NTN fine saga, the PDP charges President Buhari to end his concealment of corruption in the villa and show his sincerity by allowing an open inquest into his administration’s dealings on the MTN fine payment.”

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