Senate panel threatens sanction against Enelamah

Minister of trade and nvestment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

Minister of trade and nvestment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

• Accuses minister of leaving without permission

Investigation by the Senate on how the sum of $13.9 billion was allegedly repatriated illegally from Nigeria began, yesterday, on a frosty note.
The public hearing had scarcely commenced when Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, was seen leaving Hall 022, venue of the session.

Rafiu Ibrahim, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, which is conducting the investigation, said the panel was displeased with the minister for leaving the venue unceremoniously.

He cautioned: “Next time, he should communicate with the committee properly. I will not want to call it audacity against the entire Senate for him to come and say he cannot wait. We warn that he should engage the Senate in a more civilised way or else we would be forced to invoke our powers.”

Enelamah reportedly left the hall because he needed to attend urgent matters of national importance.The chairman of MTN, Pascal Dozie, denied any infraction in all transactions involving the Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as alleged by the committee.

Chief Executive Officer of MTN, Ferdi Moolman, noted that the 24-hour time frame provided by the CBN for companies to obtain CCI, in respect of offshore transactions, was not practicable.

The committee had accused MTN of failure to comply with rules guiding the CCI in most of its offshore transactions, citing an instance where MTN obtained CCI five years after concluding offshore transactions. It had drawn the attention of Moolman to the allegation that “MTN did not request CCI from its banker, Standard Chartered Bank, within the regulatory period of 24 hours of the inflow.”

Officials of Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered Bank, Citi Bank and Diamond Bank also addressed the committee and explained their involvement in CCI transactions with MTN.

None of the banks admitted any infractions in transactions on behalf of the telecom giant.Presenting a paper at the hearing, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) blamed regulatory agencies for depletion of the nation’s foreign reserves.

The council also blamed poor accountability of agencies for the alleged repatriation of $13.9 billion by MTN, and other infractions.The executive secretary of the council, Jim Obazee, said: “The short answer to it is very poor, weak accountability and regulatory practice in Nigeria. The regulatory agencies are not working. If they were, definitely, a lot of these infractions would not have occured.”

In this article:
Okechukwu Enelamah
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