EFCC arraigns TStv CEO, Bright Echefu, for alleged N380 million fraud

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Echefu was alleged to have misappropriated and converted the sum for his personal use, among other counts…
EFCC arraigns TStv CEO, Bright Echefu, for alleged N380 million fraud
Bright Echefu speaking to guests on a tour…

Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Bright Echefu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Telecom Satellites Limited (TStv) and three other defendants before Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja on nine-count money laundering charges.

Bright was arraigned alongside Felix Igboanuga, an executive director at TStv, and his satellite television company, TStv and Briechberg Investment Limited. They were arraigned for allegedly defrauding Mr Tanimu, a former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs and Managing Director of Kalsiyam Global of N380 million.

According to the charges, the defendants committed the acts of money laundering offence, tax evasion, unremitted Value Added Tax (VAT) and Company Income Tax and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deduction from the salaries of 165 staff.

This is in contravention of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended in 2012) and punishable under Section 15(3) and (4) of the same Act. The document also indicated that Echefu, acting as the MD of Briechberg Investment Ltd, allegedly obtained the sum of N150 million from Mr Turaki Kabiru Tanimu, SAN, MD of Kalsiyam Farm.

The monies were said to have been paid into Briechberg Investment Lid account number: 1015561485 domiciled with Zenith Bank Pic under the false pretence of representing loan advance to Telcom Satellite to enhance the acquisition of modern technology. 

TSTV CEO Announces Its Comeback, But Nobody Should Take Them Serious Just Yet
TSTV’s CEO Mr Bright Echehu

Echefu was alleged to have misappropriated and converted the sum for his personal use, among other counts.  

The four defendants pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

EFCC’s counsel, Tahir Sylvanus, SAN, prayed for an order remanding Echefu and Igboanuga in a correctional centre pending the hearing and determination of the case. He claimed that Echefu and Igboanuga were a flight risk and that it took almost a year after filing the charge before the defendants could be arraigned. He also alleged that the duo refused to appear in court after being admitted to administrative bail in 2023.

The counsel to the EFCC also asked for the possibility of a speedy trial and a swift conclusion of the matter.

Counsel to the defendants, Eyitayo Fatogun informed the court that a bail application had been filed on his client’s behalf in October 2023. He urged the court to admit them to bail. He also claimed that the defendants were ready to stand trial.

Similar: TStv Announces Its Comeback, But Maybe We Shouldn’t Take them Seriously Just Yet

TSTV CEO Announces Its Comeback, But Nobody Should Take Them Serious Just Yet
Remember Tstv?

Once touted as a potential competitor to DStv, TStv never even hit the ground running.

Recall that TStv formally launched on Nigeria’s Independence Day, October 1, 2017. Barely four days later, the company was faced with allegations of intellectual property theft.

Turner Broadcasting System Europe Limited, a company which claimed it had the exclusive rights to broadcast Cable News Network (CNN) in Africa and BeIN Sports both accused TStv of not seeking due permission before publicly offering to air their channels.

Suggested read: OurTV is Bringing Free-to-air TV Service to Nigerians, But Can it Succeed Where TStv Failed?

TStv

The early-stage trials cost the company financially and soiled its public image. Following the early challenges, TStv announced that it was fully back to business on August 20, 2018. What followed instead was another underwhelming spell for the company.

With claims that it had overcome its teething challenges, the satellite television company announced plans to relaunch on Nigeria’s independence celebration on October 1, 2020, exactly three years from when it first launched. As part of its efforts to offer Nigerians premium entertainment, TStv claimed, at that time, that it had acquired the rights to broadcast the 2020/2021 English Football League season.

It aired for a short while and fizzled out again, a botched dream for many Nigerians who had invested hope and decoders.


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