The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) is facing a likely take-over of its fibre optic infrastructure by a private telecommunication firm, Phase 3.
The take-over is despite a subsisting court order in favour of TCN.
According to ThisDay, a petition obtained on Sunday, from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, noted that TCN's operations may be affected by the action, which bothers on allegations of failing to abide by the terms of a $40 million fibre optic network infrastructure deal they signed on March 2006.
In the petition, the Department of State Services (DSS) was accused of conniving with the concessioner to take over its fiber optic infrastructure. This is as TCN said it entered into a 15-year partnership with the firm in the spirit of public private partnership, for Phase 3 to use its fibre optic network infrastructure.
According to the document, the agreement involved Phase 3 paying a concession fee of $40 million to the federal government through it for the right of access and use of the fibre optic network for the 15-year period. Besides the concession fee, TCN says it agreed with the firm that it would pay 2.5 per cent royalty on its gross revenue from its use of the network among other charges.
The corporation noted, however, that Phase 3 had remitted only $3.5 million out of $40 million. The telecommunication company had further gone ahead to allegedly sub-concession the network to a third-party for periods longer than what it agreed with it. On the premise of these two reasons, TCN says it opted to cancel the agreement, triggering a court action.
In June 2018, a Court of Appeal issued a stay-of-execution order granted on interlocutory injunctive orders to Phase 3 by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in May 2018.
In disregard of the appellate court’s notice, TCN alleged that DSS had taken over its fiber optic structures in transmission substations located in Keffi, Nasarawa State; Suleja in Niger State and Katampe in Abuja. The petition stated that the take over began on October 8, with DSS officials threatening to shoot any TCN staff who interfered with Phase 3’s take over.
“The three takeovers were done on October 8, 2018, with men of the DSS who were reportedly heavily armed, chasing away TCN workers at the substations and equally threatening to shoot and kill any of them who dared to stop Phase 3 from repossessing the concession shelter of TCN’s fibre optics infrastructure,” the petition read.
The petition noted that Phase 3 created the unauthorised access points at a time when the verdict of the suit it instituted against TCN for cancelling the $40 million concession deal was still being awaited.
According to data from the power advisory team in the Office of the Vice-President, Nigeria lost 2,187.7 mw of power due to grid constraints for the week ending Friday, September 19, 2018.
DSS spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, had not responded to the allegation at the time of the report, just as TCN was also not available for comments on the petition.