The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has alleged blackmail by management of Mobitel Nigeria Limited over the arrest and detention of its officials including the president and chief executive, Mr. Johnson Salako.
Mobitel had earlier accused the EFCC of blackmailing the firm and Salako. It claimed the N48 million it paid to the anti-graft agency was under duress.
It would be recalled that Mr. Salako was arrested on June 25 and was released on bail last Friday following an order by the Federal High Court Abuja.
Reacting to media reports of Salako’s release and his threat to drag EFCC to court over his arrest and detention, the commission alleged blackmail by the company.
Mobitel had stated that EFCC had penchant for blackmailing people. “They (EFCC) are experts at blackmail. The court order was an open issue. They detained Johnson Salako without justification,” Mobitel spokesman, Mr. Okon Inyanam told Daily Champion.
But head, media and publicity at EFCC, Mr. Femi Babafemi, in a press statement yesterday said its attention had been “drawn to series of press statements and advertorials sponsored by the management of Mobitel Ltd in the last couple of days in a bid to blackmail the commission over an on- going investigation involving the telecommunication firm and others.
He said it was expedient to let the public know some facts of the matter lest they are misled.
The commission, said as part of on-going investigation of some allegations of impropriety in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), it invited President Salako over a waiver of N242,775,000 granted the telecommunication firm by NCC in October 2008.
EFCC said Mr. Salako and the chairman of Mobitel, Mr. Adeyemi Akisanya had in their statements during interrogation on Monday June 22, admitted that their company got the waiver via an NCC letter dated October 17, 2008 and promised to refund same.
Part of the statement read: “As a further confirmation of their commitment to refund this money which rightly belongs to the government and people of Nigeria, Salako, few hours after he was released on bail brought a bank draft of N48, million to the anti-graft agency.
“Thereafter, both Salako and Akisanya, out of their own volition made handwritten commitments to bring the balance of the waived fees only for them to default,” Babafemi said.
He described as curious the manner that suggests a conspiracy of some sort to deny the Federal Government its due revenue. “Mobitel reneged on its earlier undertaking,” he said.
This, he said, led the EFCC to seek a court order to detain Salako since it was apparent that they were out to obstruct the course of investigation.
He said this was soon confirmed when both NCC and Mobitel almost simultaneously wrote the EFCC and attempted to justify why Mobitel should continue to deny the Federal Government of its due revenue by suddenly supplanting “waiver” in their previous correspondences with the word “discount” in a futile attempt to cover up an obvious illegality.
Source : Champion