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$500m bribe: How MTN forced Oyagbola to resign



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By Odunewu Segun

Embattled MTN Nigeria’s Head of Corporate Services, Ms. Amina Oyagbola, who was recently edged out of the telecom giant employment may have been a victim of her success in resolving the $5.2 billon fine imposed on MTN by the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC.

National Daily gathered that her resignation last week was actually a sack to avoid coming under scrutiny by the United States government over bribery allegation to the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari.

Though in recent memo signed by the telecom giant, Ferdi Moolman, tried to hide the fact that Ms. Oyagbola was sacked, Mr. Moolman stated that she “approached this decision [to resign] with the same optimism, thoughtfulness and passion that she has brought to the workplace over the years.”

National Daily gathered from reliable sources that Ms. Oyagbola had been sacked on account of her role in resolving the $5.2 billion saga, which was achieved through bribes to Mr. Kyari and other unnamed government officials.

Ms. Oyagbola, National Daily learnt had hired a friend, Femi Lijadu, to function as “strategic advisory services consultant” soon after the government imposed the fine. This made Mr. Lijadu a member of the team that negotiated with the Federal Government to reduce the fine to $1.7 billion. Ms. Oyagbola and Mr. Lijadu once worked under Mr. Abba Kyari at the United Bank for Africa (UBA). With the reduction of the fine to about a third of the original sum, Ms. Oyagbola’s corporate stature soared.

MTN insiders revealed that, on one occasion, the company paid N500m to Mr. Lijadu for his “services.” Last week, MTN management directed Ms. Oyagbola to step down from one of her two corporate positions. According to an MTN source, Ms. Oyagbola then opted to resign.

But another company source told National Daily that she was fired after the MTN bribe scandal with Mr. Kyari came to the notice of the parent company in South Africa. According to the source, the decision to sack Ms. Oyagbola was provoked by the prospect of severe corporate image damage should US authorities raise questions about the bribe given to Mr. Kyari to use his influence to get the fine reduced.

In his memo, Mr. Moolman wrote: “In 2015, Amina was appointed Corporate Services Executive in addition to her role as HR Executive, to provide guidance towards the resolution of the NCC fine, which is arguably the most significant challenge to the organization to date. She was an important interface and member of the negotiating team that helped to resolve the crisis amicably, and mitigate the negative impact on shareholder value and corporate reputation.”