17 January 2018

Nigeria: Dangote Denies Owing N27.18 Bn Over Fibre Optic Agreement

The management of Alheri Engineering Company Limited has denied owing the Federal Government $75,500,000 (about N27.18 billion).

The Federal Government had disclosed, yesterday, the termination of the concession contracts for management of Fibre Optic Network of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, which involved the company, owned by Aliko Dangote and Phase3 Telecom Limited, based on alleged debt of N27.18 billion.

But the company, in a statement, described the accusation as wrong and fallacious and assured its customers that the story was not only untrue but also a distortion of facts and events twisted to achieve a predetermined goal.

"The story is as bizarre as it is deceptive, calculated only to sensationalize and to smear the good corporate reputation and image of Alheri," the company said.

It stated further that after a very extensive and competitive bid selection process, it was shortlisted with Phase3 as preferred bidders for the award of the concession for the fibre optic deployment project under a Public Private Partnership, PPP, arrangement.

The statement read: "The Concession Agreement required the concessionaires to take over the operations of TCN's fibre optic network, Design, Build, Finance and Operate, DBFO, the infrastructure with unhindered access to existing and future fibre optic infrastructure on the network.

"For the purpose of execution of the project, the entire country was divided into two. The Eastern half of the country awarded to Alheri and the Western half to Phase3. It is worthy to note that the concession area granted to Alheri covers less economically viable cities."

It noted that the company had always honoured the terms of the concession agreement with TCN in line with the kilometre of fibre available as well as market realities, adding that it had never been and would never be part of any diversion or misappropriation of funds accruable to TCN as wrongly claimed by the media.

FG stops power concession contracts

Meanwhile, the Federal Government announced, yesterday, that it had terminated the company's concession contracts for management of Fibre Optic Network of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN.

Minister of Works, Power and Housuing, Mr Babantunde Fashola, had in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, dated October 31, 2017, with reference number FMP/OPS/05/1, faulted the process of the concession, insisting that there was a breach of the agreement as well as conflict of interest in the entire transactions.

The letter read: "I write to respectfully draw your Excellency's attention to ongoing efforts by the management of the TCN to enforce its termination of two failed fibre network concession agreements, recover its outstanding concession fees in the sum of $75,500,000.00 million from the two concessionaires, and take position of and commercialize its critical fibre optic infrastructure, which are essential for the stability and optimization of the national grid."

However, he noted that going ahead with the concession would affect the stability, optimization and continued expansion of the national grid, which, in turn, will affect communication in the country generally.

"The concessionaires were to pay a concession fee of $40 million each for the use of TCN's asset to service their customers.

"The concession fee was not just for the right of way upon which the transmission lines are constructed, but also for the use of the fibre optic network which was built by TCN along with the transmission lines."

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