Home » Nigerian billionaire Mike Adenuga in spotlight over $260-million debt and bribery allegations

Nigerian billionaire Mike Adenuga in spotlight over $260-million debt and bribery allegations

by Omokolade Ajayi
Mike Adenuga

Globacom Limited (Glo), one of Nigeria’s foremost telecom giants led by billionaire businessman Mike Adenuga, is embroiled in a contentious dispute with the Nigerian government over unpaid spectrum license renewal fees, annual operating levies, and numbering plan fees totalling approximately N200 billion ($260.5 million), according to Sahara Reporters.

In addition to these financial allegations, sources within the presidency have raised concerns about alleged bribery involving Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Umar Garba Danbatta.

The controversy surrounding Globacom’s unpaid fees has sparked a national debate, with questions arising about the responsibilities of major corporations and their obligations to the government. Adenuga, whose net worth stands at $3.5 billion, ranks as one of Nigeria’s richest billionaires, making this dispute a matter of significant public interest.

The recent accusations of bribery and undue influence within the NCC have intensified the controversy. Sources within the presidency claim that Danbatta received bribes and promises of presidential intervention to secure his two-year term, leading to allegations of shielding Globacom from regulatory enforcement.

According to insiders, Danbatta, in August, led a spectrum license trade that violated the one-year operating requirement, allegedly under pressure from Adenuga. Furthermore, Danbatta’s son was reportedly dispatched to India to lobby Seyi Tinubu, the son of President Bola Tinubu, on his behalf.

One insider stated: “Since President Tinubu took office, Danbatta has showered those around the Aso Villa with bulletproof cars and cash to secure his position. His recent failure to take action against Glo for not paying its $260 million debt is a test of the president’s resolve. The question is, why did he not do so in May when the money was due? This story raises concerns about Adenuga using his wealth and power to evade financial obligations to the government. It also suggests that Danbatta is using his position to protect Adenuga instead of upholding the law, with allegations of bribery further fueling suspicions of influence peddling.”

MikeAdenuga’s business empire has faced increasing scrutiny in recent times, particularly regarding the rising debt of his companies. In December 2021, the NCAA shut down a Globacom-owned base station due to an unresolved N5-billion ($12.2 million) debt dispute.

In March 2022, local oil contractors accused Conoil Plc, a petroleum marketing company majority-owned by Adenuga, of failing to honor debts totaling millions of dollars. Similarly, Eastline Energy Resources Limited initiated legal proceedings against Conoil Producing Limited, another Adenuga-owned oil and gas conglomerate, earlier this year, citing unfulfilled debt obligations.

The mounting controversies surrounding Adenuga’s business interests raise critical questions about corporate accountability, debt management, and regulatory oversight in Nigeria’s business landscape. As the nation watches developments closely, the government, the NCC, and Globacom are under increased pressure to address these allegations and provide transparency on the outstanding fees and alleged improprieties.

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