By Prince Osuagwu & Laide Akinboade
The Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC), Monday, announced that it has received board approval to open a fresh bid for licence to the 2.3 GHz frequency spectrum that ended in a stalemate at the last auction.
NCC said this fresh move was in line with the directive by President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to it, demanding the reversal of the controversial sale of 2.3 GHz frequency.
NCC’s Head of Public Affairs, Mr. Reuben Mouka, who said this, yesterday, added that the board has approved the fresh bid for the frequency.
He recounted that last December 15, NCC placed an advertisement in Nigerian newspapers, stating that it was throwing the 2.3 GHz frequency licence open for bids but at the end of the transaction which saw Mobitel, Multilinks Telkom and Spectranet emerge winners, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), was not satisfied and had to petition the Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili. Muoka said that following the petition, Akunyili directed that NCC should stop the auction of the frequency until the matter was resolved, but in April 30, 2009, NCC announced the sale of the spectrum to four bidders and they were asked to pay N1.368 million each for the licence.
According to him, the Minister, who directed NCC to stop the sales until President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua has been briefed on matter, also informed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He noted that President Yarâ€™Adua, gad to refer the matter to the Justice Minister, Micheal Aondoakaa, but that after the report of the Justice Minister which was supported by the former Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. John Odey, President Yarâ€™Adua directed last week Tuesday that a fresh bidding exercise be carried out. He also directed that all the money that has been paid by the winners of the last bidders on license fees should be returned immediately.
Meanwhile, Vanguard check from the winners of the aborted auction sale, have neither been refunded their money nor contacted even on the final cancellation of the initial sales.
But Muoka specifically said that â€œthe Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, chaired by Alhaji Ahmed Joda, met Thursday, August 20, 2009 in Abuja, to review the issues concerning the recent 2.3GHz frequency spectrum licensing process and the issues arising there from.
The Commission notes the published directive, by Mr. President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yarâ€™ Adua, to conduct a fresh bidding round for the licenses on this frequency band. Flowing from above, the programme for the fresh bidding round for licences in the 2.3GHz Band, and other frequency bands, has been initiated by the Board of the Commission, and full details will be announced in due course. All stakeholders are advised to look out for public announcements in this regard.â€
He however appealed that all interested parties to forget the events of the past months.