14 February 2013

Nigeria: Salami - MTN Denies Improper Conduct

Following the police report, which indicted MTN for allegedly suppressing information on the conversation between some leaders of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, MTN said it had not been indicted.

This came as the Nigerian Communications Communication (NCC), the apex regulator of the country's telecommunications industry, Wednesday said it would not be drawn into the dispute between the suspended President of the Court of Appeal and MTN.

The police, in a report dated February 8, 2013 and signed by Ali Amodu, Commissioner of Police, X Squad, said an investigation revealed that there was communication between Salami and the ACN leaders while he was presiding over an election petition appeal filed by the party over the 2007 governorship election dispute in Osun State, and recommended MTN for prosecution.

The report followed an investigation into a petition to the police by a former Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, wherein he alleged that Salami had an unholy relationship with the ACN leaders that influenced his judgment in the dispute between the ACN as well as Oyinlola and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Oyinlola, in the petition, accused MTN of conspiracy, forgery and perversion of the course of justice.

Reacting to police report, MTN's Corporate Services Executive, Akinwale Goodluck, said the company was yet to be notified of the outcome of the police investigation over the matter, and had not been indicted.

He also stated that MTN did not in any way act contrary to the terms and conditions of its operating licence with respect to the investigative panel set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the 2010 Appeal Court contest of gubernatorial election results in the state.

"We are constrained to speak on this issue because we are yet to get a copy of the purported police report. When this is done, we will respond appropriately," Goodluck said.

He added that MTN had a stellar reputation for ethical conduct and would therefore take grave exception to any insinuation of unethical or improper conduct against the company.

"MTN acts responsibly at all times, and in accordance with relevant laws. This unshakeable corporate principle guided our actions. Indeed, we provided all the necessary records to the requisite security agencies in accordance with the laid down procedure," he said.

He said none of the law enforcement agencies to which information was released by MTN on request had complained about the inadequacy of the information released to them, insisting that MTN is apolitical and non-partisan and as such it has no reason or motivation to suppress any evidence in favour of any person or political group as alleged.

The police however established in its report that the Call Data Records (CDR) submitted to the NJC to establish the fact that Salami communicated with the ACN bigwigs while presiding over the election petition appeal that removed Oyinlola from office, was inadequate and did not properly reveal all the communication between the two parties.

The report quoted MTN as admitting not providing all the CDRs requested by the NJC but explained that it could not produce all the call logs due to lack of storage capacity.

However, when THISDAY sought to have the response of the NCC management on the latest development, it was told that the organisation would not want to be involved in the case.

A staff of the regulatory body who would not want to be quoted said, "NCC will not want to join issues with an operator over a simple quarrel it had with one of its customers".

He said NCC would prefer to be left out of the matter more so when the issue is already being taken up at the court.

"As far as we are concerned, the case between MTN and Salami is not what NCC would want to interfere with. The operator has duty to sort such issues with the police. We are not party to the case and we would not want to be drawn into it," he said.

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