Alleged N380m Fraud: EFCC arraigns TStv MD, Echefu, three others


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arraigned the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of Telecom Satellites Limited (TStv), Bright Echefu, on a nine-count charge of money laundering.

Specifically,  Echefu was accused to have defrauded Mr Kabiru Tanimu, MD of Kalsiyam Global and also former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, the sum of N380 million.

Three others were joined as co-accused persons in the case.

They are the Executive Director of TStv, Felix Igboanuga; TStv itself and Briechberg Investment Ltd as 2nd to 4th defendants respectively.

The quartet was arraigned before Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, last Thursday.

But they all pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

Upon their non-guilty plea, 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.

Sylvanus hinged his application on the grounds that it took almost a year after filing the charge before the defendants could be arraigned.

The lawyer, who said Echefu and Igboanuga were a flight risk, alleged that the duo refused to turn up for arraignment after they were admitted to administrative bail and the charge filed on June 9, 2023.

He, therefore, asked for a speedy trial of the matter.

But Eyitayo Fatogun, SAN, who appeared for the defendants, 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, pledging that the defendants were ready to stand their trial.

According to the comprehensive charge before the court, the defendants were alleged to have, sometimes May 18, 2020, committed the money laundering offence, including tax evasion, unremitted Value Added Tax (VAT) and Company Income Tax and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deducted from the salaries of 165 staff members.

The offence is said to be contrary to the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended in 2012) and punishable under Section 15(3) and (4) of the same Act.

In count five, Echefu, being the MD of Briechberg Investment Ltd on or about May 18, 2020, in Abuja, with intent to defraud, was alleged to have 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 for the purpose of enhancing the acquisition of modern technology.

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

TStv is a satellite TV company launched by Echefu. It was expected to crush the monopolistic tendencies of Multichoice, owners of DStv and GOtv in Nigeria.

Touted as the first and only fully indigenous Pay-Tv operator in the country, TSTV came into the industry on October 1, 2017, with mouth-watering offerings that raised the hope of many Nigerians.

Indeed, its decision to launch on the country’s Independence Day was said to be symbolic of a declaration of ‘freedom’ in the Pay-Tv industry. But the company disappeared after the launch.

It, however, made a comeback on October 1, 2020, with a promise to offer Nigerians the best experience in Pay-Tv service in Nigeria.

Still, its service remained off and on leaving its subscribers, who had invested in the company’s decoders with constant complaints.

TStv completely went off the radar again in March last year and has remained so to date without any explanation to the subscribers aside from the intermittent apologies of ‘technical glitches’ during its active says.

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