EFCC arrests NBC chief over alleged N15bn fraud

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)) has arrested the Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Emeka Mba, over alleged N15 billion fraud.

Sources say Mba was arrested in Abuja and taken to the EFCC’s headquarters for interrogation.

It was gathered that the NBC chief has been under investigation over the past month, in part due to alleged irregularities around the sale of frequency to MTN. NBC made some N34billion from the sale. The National Frequency Management Council NFMC) usually chaired by the Communications Technology Minister is the body responsible for allocation frequencies but it was not clear if council ever sat and discussed the spectrum. It was alleged that former President Goodluck Jonathan approved the transaction.

But the Director-General had consistently denied any wrong doing.

Speaking in Lagos, he had said: “NBC does not sell spectrum. What we deal with is frequency. So, I am glad to inform you that we have successfully licensed MTN Nigeria Ltd to use a part of the 700 MHz (megahertz) to provide digital pay TV broadcasting services. We have thus raised N34billion slightly less than 50 per cent of our budget. I am pleased to inform you, also, that through this singular move, Nigeria has once again pointed the way for other African countries struggling with the effort of finding financing for their own digital switchover programmes.

“It may be necessary to clarify that the use of the band, 470 – 862MHz solely for UHF Television Broadcasting Service on a primary basis in Nigeria predates both the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

“As a matter of fact, most Administrations in ITU Region 1use the entire 470 – 862 MHz for UHF Television Broadcasting prior to ITU WRC-2007 conference.

“In 2006, ITU planned the entire 470 – 862MHz frequency band for Digital UHF Television Broadcasting for ITU Region 1 to which the Nigerian Administration belongs.  As a matter of fact, the planning of 470 – 862MHz frequency band for Digital UHF Television is referred to in the ITU circle as GE-06 Plan and after the Signing of the Agreements resulting from this Plan it is now referred to as the GE-06 Agreement. This should clear any doubts as to where these frequencies belong until after the completion of the digital switch over.”

Only last week, detectives stormed the headquarters of the NBC, ransacking computers and files in the Finance and Account unit and taking some key workers in the account department away.

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