By ADEBIYI ADEDAPO, Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday mandated its committee on Telecommunications to investigate and ascertain the circumstances which led to the collapse of Etisalat Network so as to protect the interest of Nigerian subscribers.
The House expressed worry that failure of Etisalat to meet its debt servicing obligations with 13 banks since 2016 forced its foreign shareholders out of the firm as the company was eventually taken over by the banks.
Chairman of the committee, Hon Saheed Akinade-Fijabi in a motion titled, “Need to Investigate the Collapse of Etisalat Nigeria (Now 9mobile) in order to protect the interest of Nigerian Subscribers and other Stakeholders,” noted that the take over was against the letters and spirit of the Nigerian Communications Act.
“The takeover of Etisalat which was renamed 9mobile by the banks is a clear violation of section 38(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, which provides that the grant of a licence shall be personal to the licensee and the license shall not be operated by, assigned, sub-licensed or transferred to any other party unless the prior written approval of the community has been granted,” he stated.
According to the motion, Etisalat Nigeria paid almost half of the initial loan amounting to about N504 billion with a total outstanding sum of about $574 million.
“Etisalat Nigeria obtained a loan of $1.2 billion (N377.7billion) in 2013 from 13 Nigerian banks, with a foreign backed guaranteed bond to finance a major network rehabilitation, upgrade and expansion of its operational base in Nigeria.
The company so far paid about half of the initial loan amounting to about N504 billion with a total outstanding sum of about $574million, but had reneged on its debt servicing obligations after the interventions of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the CBN to restructure the loan and new repayment deadline,” Fijabi stated.
The company was formerly owned by three shareholders. Emirates Telecommunications Group Company had 40 per cent shares, Mubadala Development Company, Abu Dhabi had 45 per cent shares while EMTS Holding BV had 15 per cent shares in the investment.