Senate alleges multi-billion naira fraud in NTA, directs payment of revenues into Federation Account

The Nigerian Senate Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning which is currently discussing 2021-2023 MTEF-FSP have discovered financial fraud running into billions of naira in the Joint Venture arrangement between State-owned television, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and a Chinese Satellite Pay TV, StarTimes.

The fraud came to the public glare on Friday as documents involving the parties were scrutinised with the discovery that the Nigeria Television Authority has not been remitting revenues into the Federation Account.

When the Director-General of NTA, Mallam Mohammed Yakubu presented documents to the panel, they discovered that documents relating to NTA and StarTimes which is a Chinese firm were not part of the presentation, a situation that drew the ire of the Committee members.

Trouble started for NTA after the Chairman of the Senate Panel, Solomon Olamilekan asked why the NTA was blocking StarTimes from being registered with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

Reacting, the Director-General said the Nigeria Television Authority couldn’t have stopped the Chinese firm from registering with the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), stressing that they were in a harmonious working relationship through a Joint Venture Agreement.

At that point, the panel insisted to know how much the Joint Venture Agreement has generated, querying reasons documents to that effect were not presented for scrutiny.

Unable to convince the [anel, the senate demanded to see records of what NTA generates from production, adverts and documentaries amid suspicion that there is more to it than meets the eye.

It also asked that NTA returns on Monday with its debt profile containing the names of its debtors, the date, amount incurred as well as the name of the official who authorized it for publication.

The NTA entered the Joint Venture with StarTime in 2010 with a sharing ratio of 70-30 in favour of the Beijing based company.

Irked by NTA’s outing; the Senate Panel ordered that henceforth all revenue-generating agencies of government should remit all their earnings into the Consolidated Revenue Funds out of which their cost of collection will be paid back.

The panel believed that this arrangement will not only shore up revenue for the government but also block wastages in the system.

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