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EFCC Arraigns TSTV, Executives over Alleged Tax Evasion, 419

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Federal government has dragged two top executives of Telecom Satellites Limited (TSTV), to court over alleged tax evasion, money laundering and advanced fee fraud offences.

EFCC Arraigns TSTV, Executives over Alleged Tax Evasion, 419

The accused are Dr Bright Ikechukwu Echefu, managing director and chief executive officer of TSTV and Dr Felix Nnamdi Ignoanuga said to be the executive director of the telecom satellites company.

They were put on trial at the federal high court in Abuja, alongside TSTV and another company, Briechberg Investment Limited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on 9-count criminal charges.

Part of the charges are that the two men on May 18, 2020, committed money laundering bordering on tax evasion, unremitted VAT, Company income tax and Pay As You Earn (PAYE), deducted from the salaries of 165 workers punishable under section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended in 2012.

They were alleged to have on May 18, 2020, diverted to their personal use N33. 9M, N13. 5M and N19. 4M tax money payable to the federal government in breach of section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.

On his part alone, Dr Bright Ikechukwu Echefu who is the first accused person was alleged to have defrauded Turaki Kabir Tanimu, SAN, of N960 million under false pretences.

The charge indicated that Echefu while acting as the managing director of Briechberg Investment Limited on May 18, 2020, with intent to defraud obtained the sum of N150m from Tanimu who is the Managing Director of Kalsiyam Farm as a loan to acquire modern equipment for his telecom company.

The money was said to have been paid into Briechberg Investment Limited account number 1015561485 domicile at Zenith Bank.

On the same day, the accused person was said to have obtained another N380m paid into the same account for the same purpose while another N400m was also allegedly secured by the accused the same day and for the same purpose from Tanimu who is also the MD of BYI General and paid into the same account.

Still on the same May 18, 2020, Turaki SAN, while acting as Managing Director of K. T Turake made two payments of N15M each into the Briechberg Investment Limited bank account belonging to Dr Bright Ikechukwu Echefu for the same purpose.

It will be recalled that Turaki Kabir Tanimu SAN was at a time, a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and was physically present in court during Thursday’s arraignment of the defendants.

When the charges were read to them, the two accused persons denied the alleged fraud charges.

Sylvanus Tahir, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who led the prosecution team vehemently objected to the bail application made by Eyitayo Fatigun, SAN on behalf of the two defendants.

While Tahir insisted that the accused persons are flight risks having allegedly been evading arrest, Fatigun disagreed and insisted that EFCC itself granted them administrative bail.

In a short ruling, Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo adopted the EFCC bail conditions to allow the two men go home.

The Judge, however, ordered them not to travel out of the country without the permission of the court while the immigration must be notified of the seizure of their international passports.

He warned that any breach of the bail conditions or absence in court would automatically lead to revocation of their bail and to remain in custody throughout the trial period.

Justice Ekwo directed the EFCC to transmit the record of administrative bail granted to the defendants to the court within seven days.

Meanwhile, July 15, 16 and 17 have been fixed for the commencement of trial.

 

 

 

 

 


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Court Dismisses Base Stations Lawsuit Against ATC, MTN

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ATC Nigeria, a subsidiary of American Tower Corporation, and MTN Nigeria scored a major victory in court last week over constructing or operating base transceiver stations “within close proximity” to stations owned by IHS Towers Nigeria.

The lawsuit against the two had been filed by non-profit organisation, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre, in November 2023.

Additionally, HEDA also filed a contempt of court case against ATC Nigeria’s CEO, Errol Ambler-Smith, seeking his arrest, which HEDA later withdrew.

ATC Nigeria announced that on Friday, June 21, 2024, the court struck out HEDA’s suit against ATC Nigeria and MTN Nigeria on the grounds that it was speculative and failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action.

American Tower said it has “always been and remains committed to upholding” the highest standards of legal compliance and operational integrity in all its activities.

“We are pleased that the court recognised the speculative nature of HEDA’s lawsuit, and we are hopeful that this outcome will send a message to other similar potential speculative lawsuits. We appreciate the support and understanding of all our stakeholders as we continue to invest in, and provide critical infrastructure for, Nigeria’s telecommunications industry,” ATC Nigeria said in a statement.


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Airtel Boosts Sickle Cell Awareness with CrimsonBow Initiative Collaboration

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In commemoration of this year’s World Sickle Cell Day, Airtel Nigeria partnered with the CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative to host a well-attended sickle cell awareness and clinic over the weekend, at Dansol Primary School, Ikeja, Lagos.

The event which aimed at improving sickle cell education and supporting individuals living with sickle cell disease, featured free counselling for sickle cell patients, free medical testing, drug dispensing, and sensitization sessions to educate the public about the sickle cell disease.

Through the partnership, much-needed support and resources were provided to affected individuals while promoting early detection and proper management of the condition.

Commenting on the involvement of Airtel in the program, Chief Commercial Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Femi Oshinlaja, emphasized Airtel’s dedication to good health as part of the telecommunication company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals.

“We are proud to partner with CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative in this important endeavour, as it reflects our commitment to corporate social responsibility and improving community health outcomes. The goal of this partnership is to provide crucial support to individuals living with sickle cell disease and to help raise awareness about the condition.

“Through this partnership, we strongly hope to make a positive impact on the lives of those affected,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative, Timi Edwin, expressed gratitude to Airtel. In her remarks, “This partnership with Airtel Nigeria allows us to extend our reach and provide essential services to more individuals living with sickle cell disease. We appreciate Airtel Nigeria for their support in making this event possible.”

Airtel Nigeria has continued to reinforce its position as an organization committed to the well-being of the society through various corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Asides initiative partnerships like this to combat the challenges faced by individuals living with sickle cell disease, they continue to make strides under several CSR initiatives, contributing to the overall effort to enhance the general wellness of Nigerians.

 


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Tinubu appoints Tunji Bello as CEO of FCCPC

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President Bola Tinubu has appointed Olatunji Bello as the new Chief Executive Officer/Executive Vice-Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, who disclosed this in a statement on Monday, noted that the appointment is pending confirmation by the Senate.

He said that the President expects that the new Chief Executive Officer of this important agency will ensure the holistic realization of the Commission’s mandate of protecting and promoting the interest and welfare of Nigerian consumers and ensuring the adoption of measures to guarantee the safety and quality of goods and services.

Bello, who is a lawyer, administrator, and renowned journalist, is the former secretary to the Lagos State Government and holds a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos.

“He studied Law at the same university and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2002,” the statement read.

“Bello began his career in journalism at the Concord Newspapers in 1985 and held the positions of Group Political Editor; Sunday Concord Editor, and Editor, National Concord.

“He is a winner of the US Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship and was appointed the Chairman, Editorial Board of THISDAY Newspapers in 2001.

“He also served as Commissioner for Environment under various administrations in Lagos State.


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