CBN, MTN getting closer to settlement – Lai Mohammed

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…As EFCC denies plot to assassinate Fayose in custody***

Nigeria‘s central bank and South African telecommunications firm MTN could soon strike a deal in their dispute over the repatriation of $8.1 billion, Nigeria‘s information minister said on Wednesday.

The central bank says MTN transferred $8.1 billion of funds out of Nigeria in breach of foreign-exchange regulations. Nigeria, which accounts for a third of the South African company’s annual core profit, is MTN’s biggest market. “I am sure there will be a settlement and I believe they are getting closer to resolving it,” Information Minister Lai Mohammed told Reuters during a visit to London.

“They are ‘businessmen’ and they are going to resolve it… it is in the interest of all the parties that this matter will be resolved,” he said, declining to give any further details.

MTN’s shares have lost a fifth of their value since the Nigerian central bank ordered the firm and the four banks involved – Standard Chartered PLC, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC Citibank and Diamond Bank PLC – to bring back the funds on August 29.

Governor Godwin Emefiele said earlier this month that the central bank may reduce the amount.

In the meantime, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has dissociated self from a purported audio recording in which he allegedly said he was not bothered if the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose dies in EFCC custody.

A former deputy national publicity secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Timi Frank, said there was an ongoing plot to harm Fayose while in detention with EFCC.

“A Senior staff of the agency last night had to call attention of some opposition leaders to the instruction given to the agency by the presidency to ensure that Fayose does not leave EFCC custody a healthy person,” Frank said in a statement.

Fayose reported to the EFCC office on Tuesday to answer questions on the alleged receipt of N1.2 billion from a former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, through a former minister of state for defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.

“Members of the public are advised to disregard this disingenuous creation an handiwork of mischief makers intent on distracting the EFCC from the serious work of wrapping up the investigation into the corruption allegations against Fayose,” EFCC said in a statement.

“The audio recording is fake as the comments did not emanate from the Chairman of the EFCC,” he added.

Guardian NG