Controversy continues to brew surrounding the sale of NITEL, national telecoms carriers with one of the failed bidders in the exercise proceeding to seek legal remedy
One of the failed bidders for NITEL, Nigeria’s erstwhile national telecoms company has filed a suit contending its sale to bid winners, NATCOM telecoms. The bidder launching the suit is Arabian Amlak Investment Limited which is was one of the almost two dozen companies that threw their hats in the ring during the bidding for NITEL. The company claims that bidding process was flawed and deliberately engineered to favor certain bidders, going against the principle of granting a level playing to all parties involved in the bidding process.
Accusations have also been made that the winning firm, NATCOMS telecoms may have received preferential treatment due to the fact that one of its principal officers is a prominent member of the party in power at the Federal Government, the People’s Democratic Party. NATCOMS telecoms it will be recalled, is a corporate trust of a group of owners which includes the Chairman of Skye Bank, Tunde Ayeni, who is alleged to be a top-level associate of the ruling party and has also been successful with bids to purchase public assets such as Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, Yola Electricity Distribution Company and Mainstreet Bank.
The plaintiff in the suit against the sale to NATCOMS telecoms, Arabian Amlak Investment Limited, also expressed reservations over the guided liquidation strategy which it claims was employed by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and brought discriminatory circumstances against certain bidders while giving others an unfair advantage.
Chief Executive of Arabian Amlak Investment Limited, Mr Muazu Omolori while expressing reservations about revealing details about matters now before a court said that among the 22 companies that submitted Expression of Interest (EoI) documents, Arabian Amlak stood apart by having received a reply from the BPE. The company in its suit impugned the sale of NITEL via guided liquidation, disputing the decision of government to prefer a purchase fee far much inferior to the $920 million it claimed it put forward to the National Council on Privatization.