Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate said it has uncovered an alleged multi-billion naira fraud in the joint venture operations between the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and a Chinese Satellite Pay TV, StarTimes.
The allegation was made through the Senate Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning which is currently considering the details of the 2021-2023 MTEF & FSP documents, scrutinized the spending and expenditure of the Nigerian Television Authority for 2021.
The Senate Panel was amazed to discorver that the multi-billion naira deal with StarTimes was not captured anywhere in the documents submitted to it as presented by the Director-General, Mallam Mohammed Yakubu.
Trouble started for NTA after the Chairman of the Senate Panel, Solomon Olamilekan asked why NTA was blocking StarTime from being registered with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Responding, Yakubu denied the allegation; stressing that NTA couldn’t have blocked StarTime as it was currently in a Joint Venture Agreement with the company.
The DG’s statement prompted further questions from the Senate Panel as they asked to know how much NTA had earned from the Joint Venture with StarTimes over the years.
The Senate Panel suspicious at that point; demanded to see records of what NTA generates from production, adverts and documentaries.
It also asked that NTA should return 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 given to them.
This the panel said will shore up revenue for government as well as block wastages in the system.