Reps to investigate collapse of Etisalat 

OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives on Thursday resolved to investigate the circumstances that led to the collapse of Etisalat.

The Green Chamber mandated its committee on Telecommunications to conduct the probe and report back to the House within eight weeksfor further legislative action.

The decision is sequel to a motion moved by the Chairman of Committee on Telecommunications, Akin Fijabi (APC, Oyo).

While presenting the motion, Fijabi noted that “Etisalat Nigeria (now 9mobile) commenced business in 2009 after acquiring the unified access licence spectrum in the GSM 1800 and 900 MHZ bands from the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) in January 2007, thus becoming Nigeria’s fourth largest telecommunications network operator with over 21million subscribers and controlling about 12.9% of the country’s telecom market.” 

He disclosed that “Etisalat Nigeria was formerly owned by three shareholders, namely; Emirate Telecommunications Group Company (40%), Mudabala Development Company, Abu Dhabi (45%) and EMTS Holdings BV (15%).”

He narrated further that Etisalat Nigeria in 2013 obtained $1.2B loans from 13 banks for expansion, upgrade and rehabilitation works and disclosed further that “Etisalat had so far paid half of the initial loans  but reneged on its debt service obligations after the intervention of NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to restructure the loan and new payment deadline.”

According to Fijabi, the failure on the part of Etisalat Nigeria to meet up with its obligations resulted in foreign shareholders bailing out of the organisation which led to the banks taking over the company.

Fijabi criticized the takeover of Etisalat by the 13 banks as a violation of the NCC Act, declaring that prompt action must be taken to protect the interest of subscribers and shareholders.

He referred to section 38(1) of the NCC Act, 2013 which provides that ‘the grant of a license shall be personal to the licensee and license shall not be operated by, assigned, sub licensed or transferred to any other party unless the prior written approval of the commission has been granted.” 

The presiding officer, Lasun Yusuf said that the chairman should have gone ahead to investigate the matter as his committee has oversight of the telecom sector. 

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