The federal government may review the 700MHz spectrum license sale following the ongoing probe into the activities of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Daily Trust learnt yesterday. The NBC director general Emeka Mba was arrested on Monday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly operating a secret account into which about N17billion out of N34bn paid by MTN Nigeria for the 700MHz license was kept.
Part of the reasons for his arrest was a petition written by some aggrieved broadcast and telecoms industries players to EFCC alleging that Mba contravened due process in the spectrum sale to MTN, according to a source. Already, the Frequency Management Council (FMC) is reviewing the spectrum sale and the ongoing probe of NBC may provide the ground for its cancellation, the source, who is a top government official, told Daily Trust yesterday.
The FMC which has a representation from the ministries of science and technology and communication was said to have given NBC the nod to sale the spectrum to MTN during twilight of Goodluck Jonathan administration. But some telecoms and broadcast firms who felt the deal was not transparent later kicked against the sale when the President Muhammadu Buhari administration came on board.
Later NCC also voiced out it disagreement with the sale. The firms, on their part, alleged lack of transparency in the sale to MTN while the NCC said the spectrum should have been auctioned by it not NBC.
“We do not intend to join issues with them but we intend to avail ourselves of existing mechanism for arbitration and mediation through the Frequency Management Council,” the NCC executive vice chairman Prof Umar Danbatta had said recently.
MTN spokesperson could not be reached yesterday but a top official in the country said the company had nothing to fear as it did not breach any Nigerian law in getting the license. The NBC spokesperson Malam Awwalu Salihu declined to comment on the matter.