Sources in the Presidency informed Sunday Trust that President Umaru Yar’adua is unhappy over the bickering between the minister and the NCC vice-chairman and had initiated moves to broker peace between the two because the lingering feud was becoming an embarrassment to the Yar’adua administration.
The sources confirmed that a peace parley scheduled for last Friday at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa was aborted at the last minute and shifted to tomorrow.
While Akunyili is miffed about the insubordination of Ndukwe in undermining her authority as the supervisory minister of the NCC and his refusal to honour several of her invitations over the bidding process, and auction of the 2.3 GHz spectrum licences, Ndukwe is adamant that the minister can’t remove him from office as his tenure expires in 2010.
Ndukwe’s position, Sunday Trust checks revealed is hinged on the fact that the Act setting up the NCC only empowers either the president or the Senate to relieve him of his appointment. Akunyili’s grouse with Ndukwe, which eventually led to his arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is that the NCC vice-chairman flouted her directive to halt the bidding process and auction of the spectrum licences.
The minister, dissatisfied with the outcome of the bidding and auction process, forwarded to the EFCC, petitions she had received from aggrieved bidders against Ndukwe, alleging that due process wasn’t adhered to in the award of the spectrum licences.
Moreover, Ndukwe was accused in the petition of having substantial interests in one of the successful companies (Mobitel Limited) that won the spectrum licence. Other charges contained in the petition sent to the EFCC by the minister against the NCC chief executive include his incurring of expenditure above the amount allocated to the commission in the 2008 budget; waiving federal revenue and misleading the federal government in awarding the contracts for the construction of emergency communications information centres across the country.