Nigeria’s Senate has uncovered an alleged multibillion-naira fraud in the joint venture between the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Chinese satellite pay TV company StarTimes.
The allegation was made by the Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning after the NTA’s expenses were scrutinised during discussions about the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.
It found that the documents submitted by the director-general of the NTA, Mohammed Yakubu, did not mention the deal with StarTimes and nor did they refer to remitted revenues into the federation account.
The affair came to light when committee chairman Solomon Olamilekan asked why the NTA was blocking StarTimes from being registered with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Yakubu denied the claim, saying: “The Nigerian Television Authority could not have blocked StarTimes from registering with the NBC as it is currently in a joint-venture agreement with the company.”
The NTA entered the JV with StarTimes in 2010 with a 70/30 sharing ratio in favour of the Beijing-based company.
When Yakubu was unable to convince the panel how much the NTA had earned from its venture with StarTimes over the years, it demanded to see records showing what the NTA generates from production, advertising and documentaries.
It also asked that the NTA return with its debt profile containing the names of its debtors, dates, amount incurred and the name of the official that authorised it for publication.
The Senate ordered that all revenue-generating agencies of government should fron now on remit all their earnings into the consolidated revenue funds out of which their cost of collection will be given to them. The panel claimed the arrangement will shore up revenue for the government as well as prevent wastage in the system.