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Posts tagged ‘Nigerian Communications Commission’

How NCC Commissioner Gwandu Won Dismissal Case Against President Jonathan-Leadership Newspaper.


Bashir Gwandu
By Leadership Editors

The National Industrial Court, NIC, in Abuja has at last delivered its ruling in the suit filed by the former executive commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Bashir Gwandu, against President Goodluck Jonathan and others challenging the legality of his removal from office.

Gwandu was asking:
1.       Whether by virtue of the provisions of S. 10 (2), (3) and (4) of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, his purported removal as an executive commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission by the 1st defendant (President) via a letter dated November 26, 2012 is not illegal, unconstitutional, ultra vires, null, and void and of no effect whatsoever.

2.       Whether having regard to the provisions of S. 10 (2), (3) and (4) of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, his fundamental right to fair hearing was not breached having not been served with the statutory notice of the intention of the 1st defendant to remove him from office and the reasons thereof and afforded the statutory opportunity to make written submissions thereto prior his removal from office.

3.       Whether having regard to the provisions of Sections 8 and 10 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, the appointment of the claimant by the 1st defendant does not have legal status as to invest the Court with the power to order the reinstatement of the claimant and payment of his salaries and allowances since November, 2012.

4.       Whether if questions 1, 2, & 3 above are answered in the affirmative, the claimant is not entitled to exemplary and aggravated damages.

Gwandu is also seeking the following prayers

1.       A declaration that the purported removal of the claimant as an Executive Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission by the 1st defendant via a letter dated November 26, 2012 is illegal, unconstitutional, ultra vires, null and void and of no effect whatsoever as it violates the provisions of Section 10 (2), (3) and (4) of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003.

2.       A declaration that the failure or refusal of the 1st defendant to serve the claimant with the statutory notice of intention to remove him from office and the reasons thereof and afford him the opportunity to make written submissions thereto prior to his removal from office is illegal, null and void as it violates the claimant’s right of hearing guaranteed by Section 10 (2), (3) and (4) of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003.

3.       A mandatory order of this honourable court directing the 1st defendant herein to reinstate the claimant as an Executive Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission and pay him his accrued salaries, benefits and allowances since November 26, 2012 till judgment is delivered in this suit.

4.     An order of this Honourable Court directing the 1st defendant to pay the sum of N500, 000, 000.00k (Five Hundred Million naira only) to the claimant as exemplary and aggravated damages as a result of his unlawful removal as Executive Director of the National Communications Commission, and by extension, as Chair of the International Telecommunications Union Radio Communications Advisory Group as well as Vice-Chair of the ITU Joint Task Force Group 4567.
The Court dismisses preliminary objection of the President for lack of merit and also granted reliefs 1, 2, and a part of relief no. 3 and 4; The court declares Gwandu’s removal  from office as executive commissioner as illegal, unconstitutional, ultra vires, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

The court also ordered that Gwandu’s accrued salaries, benefits, allowances and entitlements up to 21st January 2014 be paid.

The court, however, declined to order re-instatement citing ‘acrimony’ within the NCC as the reason. The Court has granted N100m of the N500m claim as General damages apparently to compensate for the loss of the two major international ITU appointments which are lost, to serve as a exemplary, and for damage to reputation in the manner removed.

Gwandu’s counsel, however, seemed perplexed that the court failed to reinstate him, saying that it was not the role of the court to look at acrimony even if it existed.

Since the court has declared the action as illegal, then the court is duty-bound to order re-instatement. He said his client (Gwandu) could lose almost 2 years pay, allowances, and other entitlements if his tenure and contract is cut short before Jan 2016. He said he will consult with his client to decide whether or not to appeal against the part of the ruling.

Engr. Gwandu in his reaction said “First, we thank God for this day, and I thank my Lawyers, Mr Femi Falana SAN and Mr Deji Morakinyo for a job well done. I also thank the Industrial Court and our judge for the courage to declare the action of my removal illegal, null, and void and of no effect whatsoever.”

He further said that “I see this case as part of my contribution towards strengthening of the rule of law and a decision meant to send message to investors that Nigeria has come of age and is a place where the law is applicable to everyone, including the President. The Nigerian telecom law is there and it contains adequate provisions to protect stakeholders and investment, all that investors need to do is to learn to stand and pursue their rights in defence of their investments.

” As for the young ones, never be discouraged, troubled, or get intimidated by powerful forces. There is an honour in public service, just do your part, and God is there to provide protection. Have faith in God and you will never be disappointed.”

It would be recalled that Jonathan removed Gwandu hurriedly after he exposed a series of fraudulent, secret, and non-competitive Sales of Frequency Spectrum, and Spectrum fee Waivers that could cost government over N53billion at a meeting chaired by the Vice-President on 6th August 2012 which naturally will lead to acrimony.

In particular Gwandu was removed from office as a Executive Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on November 26, 2012, for three major frauds he exposed; first, selling of 450MHz Spectrum to an unlicensed company- OpenSkys ltd reportedly owned by Mr. Emeka Offor. OpenSkys paid only US $6 million for a license that should have fetched the nation over $50 million.

The arrangement has further incapacitated the new $470m police network, which has started falling apart. The police appear to be helpless. Secondly, the N1.029bn waiver applied for by the Communications Minister Mrs. Omobola Johnson supposedly for three companies, and then granted only to MTS- a company that the NCC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Eugene Juwah in two separate Interviews granted on 16th June 2007 and 12th October 2012 admitted share ownership, at the expenses of the federal treasury and other telcos operating under similar conditions in the industry, noting that a similar type of waiver amounting to N242million granted by NCC to Mobitel was eventually agreed to be shared between sellers and new buyers, and then, the third issue he stood against, was the selling of a 10MHz slot in the 800MHz spectrum-band to a South African company called Smile Communications Limited at about euros €13 million only when exact equivalent spectrums were sold in Germany, Italy, France and UK for €1.153billion, €992million, €891million and €631million respectively, the UK earning slightly lower amount due to imposed strict coverage obligations. In a related development, a few days ago, Belgium, a country of just 11 Million people, raised €120m for each of the 3 slots of the 800MHz Spectrum generating a revenue of €360m, and in a rather complicated mixture of 4G Spectrum slots Netherlands was, only recently, able to raise Euros €3.8billion from the 4G auction.

Dr Bashir Gwandu stood against the NCCs secret non-competitive sale of the 800MHz and the 450MHz Spectrums because the sale breaches clear provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, Nigerian Procurement Act 2007, and the NCC Spectrum Pricing Regulation. In particular, the sale has breached Nigerian Communications Act 2003 Sections 1(e), 4(1)(d), 4(2), 33(3) as well as Public Procurement Act 2007 Sections 55(3), 56(3), 57(5,6) and also Spectrum Pricing regulations s. 2(a) and s. 2(c) and s. 4 of the Regulation.


Forum tasks Nigerians on Payment of Tax to boost National Development.

By Eric Ojo

jonathanParticipants at the just concluded workshop on patriotism, civic and ethical responsibility (PCE) have reiterated the overriding need for every Nigerian citizen to ensure prompt payment of income tax as a foundation for any demand for accountability in efforts geared towards national development.
The workshop also urged governments at all levels should also ensure an expansive tax regime that is bound by the principles of equity, certainty, convenience, economy, simplicity, neutrality and efficiency, adding that many states in the country cannot be sustained through their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and that in most instances, their IGR cannot even fund recurrent expenditure.
The forum which was organised in Abuja by Stop Impunity Nigeria Campaign (S.I.N) is a collaborative effort by a multi stakeholder group of civil society organisations, religious bodies and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) aimed at re-orienting Nigerians and promoting new ethical values to free the country from the debilitating effects of impunity, noted that taxation is the foundation of the social contract between the citizen and the government.
The event which attracted participants from the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, civil society including the media, religious bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) added that tax as an instrument of social engineering, is the price of social security and welfare. The participants however lamented that a good number of Nigerians do not pay tax whilst others under-declare their taxable income and as such, Nigeria still depends on oil rent to fund its bureaucracy and service delivery operations.
The multi-stakeholder meeting also observed that the development of a culture of organized giving and charity at the individual and corporate levels is imperative if the country must sustain public spirited work in the national interest, adding that this should be facilitated by a taxation regime that makes such donations tax deductible.
The forum equally harped on the need for the introduction of citizenship education in the basic curriculum of schools for young Nigerians to be able to understand the country’s history, learn from it and inculcate the virtues of responsible citizenship.
The participants further called on the Nigerian middle class to be resolute about actively engaging governance, participate in the politics, vote at elections and champion the cause of new Nigeria that will be an egalitarian and progressive society committed to the development of productive forces, adding value, creating wealth and ensuring that the benefits of national development are available to all.
“There is an ever present need for a national dialogue by whatever name called to discuss and address the fundamental challenges besetting the Nigerian nation. Decree 24 of 1999 which masquerades as the source of authority for the 1999 Constitution cannot be the foundation of a Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria where we the people of Nigeria resolved and agreed to give to ourselves a constitution”, the group further declared in a communique jointly signed by Eze Onyekpere Esq, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Jacenta Torhee (Mrs) of the NOA, Babatunde Adegbesan, Publish What You Pay and Idris Miliki, Centre for Conflict Resolution.
The workshop enjoined Nigerian civil society including organized labour, academia, the media and NGOs to rise up to the challenge of nation building and development, noting that the time has come to move away from leaving the field of activism to only a few advocates who can easily be isolated and their demands ignored.
They also recommended that regulatory agencies should as a matter of urgency, improve on their oversight and regulation of private sector entities that deliver services to the Nigerian people. “In this regard, we call on the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and others to improve the quality of their services”, the forum further stated
In the same vein, the meeting said the culture of road safety should be strengthened through the enhanced activities of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and that the NOA should be supported by all Nigerians in its task of re-orientating Nigerians towards a great nation where people do the right thing to transform the nation while religious institutions in the country should be at the forefront of the campaign for civic responsibility and greater accountability in governance.
They also charged the Environmental Protection Boards and Authorities to improve service delivery, reach out to the people through community development associations and mainstream the culture of environmental stewardship.
The participants applauded the support of the Ford Foundation and the efforts of the Stop Impunity Campaign in the organisation of the workshop which focused on the identification of major issues and challenges in PCE and their links with impunity. Meanwhile, the workshop is also developing a follow up plan of action and strategies for enhancing PCE in Nigeria.
Source: African Examiner.

Phone-For-Farmers Slides Into New Controversies By Ahmad Salkida.

Last December, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, saw a need to let Nigerians know what impressive work her ministry was doing. She disclosed that they were in the process of procuring some 10 million mobile phones worth about N60 billion from China and the US for free distribution to rural farmers across the country. According to Odusote, the funds had already been appropriated with distribution expected to take off first quarter of 2013. She pointed that the plan was part of the e-wallet project under which her ministry planned to educate, inform and communicate with the farmers in the rural areas on the latest and best agricultural practices, as well as the current prices of commodities in the market.

In the eyes of the technocrats, Odusote’s words sounded like music but to Nigerians who have long held the views that they were under the rulership of thieving, wasteful class, this was a further  evidence to confirm their fears. There was a national outcry on all media platforms regarding the size of the appropriation and the purpose for which it is budgeted. Sensing that this was going to be a potential fire on gun powder, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina hastily took the podium, arguing that the agricultural transformation agenda was carried out with aims to connect farmers to information, expand their access to markets, improve their access to savings and loans, and help them adapt to climate change dynamics that affect them and their livelihoods.

With its hand most likely forced by the criticism, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development eventually released more details about the project. Initial reports had indicated that the government planned to spend NGN60 billion (US$381 million) to buy phones and distribute them to farmers, but the minister in charge has since stated that there will be no direct procurement of phones by the federal government and that there is “no NGN60 billion anywhere to be used to buy cell phones.”

According to the minister, farmers will acquire mobile phones through network operators in their locality, paying for the devices with vouchers issued by the government. Adesina did  not state how much value in monetary terms could be placed on the vouchers that government would issue to the estimated 10 million farmers. The authorities say they will work in partnership with mobile operators, which will sell the devices through their retail outlets. Once a farmer buys a phone and a SIM card, an e-wallet account will be opened through which he can receive vouchers to buy fertilizers, seeds at subsidized rates and access certain information.

The Minister’s explanations sounded better thought -out than the initial press reports of random distribution of free mobile phones to farmers, but the details failed to altogether wipe out the public misgivings on the project.  The initiative seems not targeted at benefiting the already funded Federal government rural development projects. For example, the Nigerian Communications Commission runs the Universal Service Provision Fund, which is dedicated to improving information and communications technology in undeserved areas, including rural zones, yet at the time the project was conceived, it appears, there was no interface between the two ministries.

Strangely, inquiries at the ministry over the procurement process have revealed little information. Officials at the procurement unit of the ministry are not involved in any  part of the process. In fact, an official who spoke here on condition of anonymity said that “the whole thing is between the minister’s office and the Presidency. It is actually called presidential project” and at such, procurement processes are never followed. This is part of why the public procurement statute was enacted to ensure that all public procurement processes followed clear and transparent steps.

Beyond the zero public procurement process attributable to this “phone-for-farmers” controversy, the Public and Private Development Centre, (PPDC) that monitors adherence or lack of it in public procurement by government agencies has found out that a swill of additional heavy controversy is building dramatically around the project. Two other public agencies have literally drawn a line in the sand over the project. The Federal ministries of Women Affairs as well as Communications have petitioned the Presidency over the implementation of the project. In effect, the project is bedeviled by official intrigues and power-play.

The Communication ministry have argued that irrespective of who the target beneficiaries of the project are, they consider themselves better equipped technically to implement the project and bring value to the end users. On its part, the Women Affairs ministry have raised issues with focus on the number of women targeted to benefit. Not only, according to findings by our investigation, is the Women Affairs contending for a size able percentage of beneficiaries to be of the womenfolk, officials of the ministry argue in their petition to the Presidency that they are the only ministry capable of ensuring that justice on this matter was meted out to the womenfolks. Our inquiries suggest that the Women Affairs ministry may have obtained the valuable listening ears of the wife of the President, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, making further progress by the Agriculture ministry nearly unattainable.

A 2007 World Bank report on developing countries including Nigeria, seems to have strengthened the argument in favour of the project along the lines developed by the Federal ministry of Agriculture. The report affirms that most small-scale farming systems in the third world would be much more productive and profitable than they presently are if they obtain access to inputs and credit as well as the ability to bear risks. It concludes that access to information was key for farmers to overcoming their unproductive status.

Irrespective of which of the ministries that gets the final Presidential nod to handle the project implementation, it has become obvious that the project will not benefit from any transparent public procurement process. The traditional procurement units in these ministries seem ill-equipped. Nor do they have the requisite political clout to subject to scrutiny and question a project over which the serving minister had endorsed as being central in the President’s transformation Agenda.

Several organizations have requested from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development copies of procurement records with regards to the ministry’s procurement process under the GES Scheme. Documents made available to this writer showed a  duly acknowledged request for information was made using the combined provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 on the 21st of January, 2013 PPDC, as at date, the PPDC is yet to get a response from the Ministry which is a clear contravention of the provisions of the FOI Act.

For Dr. Adesina, Farming is becoming a more time-critical and information-intense business. A push towards higher productivity will require an information-based decision-making agricultural system.  Farmers must get information at the right time and place. Research in Sri Lanka recently found that the cost of information from planting decision to selling at the wholesale market can make up to 11% of total production costs.

An official of the ministry, in agreeing with the minister understanding agriculture as a business, puts the farming cycle – and the use of mobile applications in agriculture – into a broader perspective and adopts a view of agricultural activities within their entire economic, social and institutional environment. It tries to understand existing initiatives and experiences as well as the potential of mobile technologies to foster the productivity and performance of individual farmers, of the agri-food value chain including its supporting services, and the agricultural sector as a whole.

However, Mrs. Nkem Ilo, the team leader at PPDC, it is not entirely so much of technological application as it is about the evident “secrecy” surrounding the process.  She argues that even the absence of commodity stock market in Nigeria makes the tracking of process to productivity as well as profit untenable and therefore bound to fall short on goals achievement. She argues that countries that have successfully placed climate change and food security within their policy purview in agricultural initiatives have tended to be more successful, indicating an inclination towards a ‘bottom-up’ approach rather than ‘top-bottom’ approach indicative of this policy.

Dr. Bukar Usman of Srilgroup limited, an agricultural company based in northeastern Nigeria, sees the ‘phone for farmers scheme’ differently, agreeing with the minister that ‘it is the next best thing for farmers in Nigeria’. “It is no doubt a brilliant step to transform agriculture in the country to compete with oil revenue but my fear is the initiative seeks to address the problem of agriculture from the top to bottom instead of from bottom to the top. They also need to eliminate corruption, build infrastructure, create enabling environment for grassroots farmers in Nigeria to compete with their counterparts in developed countries”.

For Mrs. Nkem, people should not lose sight of cost and sustainability of the project. “Averagely, it will cost the Ministry at least 70 kobo per SMS and when you multiply that to 10 million farmers it gives you N7 million for only a batch of SMS. The average months for the raining season in Nigeria is 6 months, a time the farmers may require frequent information flow, at least, twice a week. This will give us a minimum of N33.6billion”.

Salkida an independent investigative journalist can be reached at salkida@gmail.comand on twitter – @contactSalkida



Nigeria fines MTN, others $7.38 mln for bad service.

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ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria‘s telecoms regulator fined the country’s four main mobile operators, including MTN and Bharti Airtel, a total of 1.17 billion naira on Sunday for poor-quality service.

              The telecoms industry is hugely profitable in Nigeria, Africa’s second-biggest economy and home to some 160 million people, but users complain that the service is poor, with frequent dropped calls and network interruptions.

              “The penalties are as a result of the contravention of the provisions of the quality of service regulations by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as the operators failed to meet with the minimum standard of quality of service” during May and April, an NCC statement said.

              There was no immediate reaction from the operators, although MTN has complained that sabotage of its equipment and shutdowns by state agencies over tax disputes in some parts of Nigeria are impeding improvements to its service.

              MTN and Etisalat were fined 360 million naira each, Bharti Airtel was ordered to pay 270 million naira and Globacom, a privately owned network of Nigerian billionaire tycoon Mike Adenuga, got a 180-million-naira bill.



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