Nigeria: Senate Summons UBA GMD Over Alleged N41bn Privatisation Fraud

29 July 2020

The Senate on Tuesday summoned the Group Managing Director of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, to appear before it next Wednesday, over allegation of N41 billion fraud associated with the liquidated Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL).

UBA via a petition was alleged to have defrauded the liquidated Nigerian Telecommunications Limited ( NITEL) of about N41billion from N42 billion liquidators fund of the telecommunications company deposited thereafter being sold to MTEL.

The summon of the bank's GMD was a sequel to the petitions forwarded to the upper legislative chamber by J .U Ayogu and Co, on behalf of NITEL/MTEL and referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions for further legislative action.

The committee Chairman, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, told reporters that the Group Managing Director ( GMD) and Chief Executive Officer ( CEO) of the bank, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, has been summoned to appear before the committee unfailingly on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.

UBA, he stated, was alleged to have made unauthorized withdrawals from the accounts of the liquidated telecommunications companies four different times technically stealing N41 out of N42billion liquidators of the forms deposited there.

According to him, as clearly stated and explained in the petition, UBA withdrew N29 billion, N11 billion, N6.8 million and N22 million at different times between 2006 and 2015 from the accounts without relevant tickets or authorizations for that purpose.

He added that liquidators of the firms explained further in the petition that officials of UBA have been hiding under litigated N685million it withdrew from the accounts.

Akinyelure said: "Being a committee adhering strictly to Senate rules, the litigated N685million is not part of what the UBA is being invited for despite even losing to NITEL liquidators at both the Federal High Court and Appeal Courts.

"The Committee's right of investigation under section 88 of the 1999 Constitution will be exercised to the fullest on this matter because the owners of the stolen monies by UBA are dying".

He explained further that UBA promised to provide the tickets for the withdrawal of N22.5 billion withdrawn from the NITEL accounts without authorisation.

His words: "A human rights lawyer had sent a petition on behalf of the liquidators and creditors of NITEL and MTEL, that if the N685m is a subject of litigation, there is a third account meant for taxation and disasters which has N169m. It was also unilaterally withdrawn by the UBA. Seven years after the withdrawal, they've not provided the tickets, instead, they were asking the liquidators to get the tickets from the dead liquidators, which is wrong. They had yet to provide the tickets.

"In another account which had N29bn, UBA also unilaterally withdrew the money from NITEL accounts without authorization tickets. Most of the creditors of NITEL have sued the liquidators that they've collected money from the UBA without paying them.

"The human rights lawyer wrote on behalf of the dying creditors to the Senate for legislative interventions.

"There is another MTEL account N11bn withdrawn by the UBA and it has not been accounted for till today. The creditors don't have money to go to court because they are already bankrupt. They sued UBA over the N685m and they won at the Federal High Court, Appeal Court and the Supreme Court. Up till today, they didn't respect the court judgment by not paying the liquidators.

"When the Senate wrote the UBA management, they responded that the matter was in court.

The Senate is hereby insisting that the matter is not subjuidice, and we are calling on them to appear before us on August 5, 2020.

"The Group Managing Director should come and explain how the other funds withdrawn was before the court. They are owing the NITEL and MTEL over N41 billion and they should come and explain to Nigerians".

The federal government had after many years of looking for buyers eventually sold NITEL/ MTEL in July 2006 to Transcorp for $750m.

Transcorp, a Nigerian multi-national, multi-sectoral conglomerate emerged the winner in a negotiated bid, beating six other companies to the sale.

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