On Thursday, the Managing Director and CEO of Telecom Satellite Television, Bright Echefu, and its Executive Director, Felix Igboanuga, faced a nine-count criminal charge in front of Justice Inyang Ekwo at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused them of tax evasion, money laundering, and advanced fee fraud. In case number FHC/ABJ/CR/254/2023, Echefu, Igboanuga, TSTV, and Briechberg Investment Limited were named as the first through fourth defendants.

The charges claim that on May 18, 2020, Echefu and Igboanuga committed money laundering related to tax evasion, including not paying VAT, company income tax, and PAYE taxes deducted from 165 employees’ salaries. They allegedly diverted N33.9 million, N13.5 million, and N19.4 million of tax money for personal use, violating Section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.

Additionally, Echefu is accused of defrauding former Nigerian minister Turaki Tanimu of N969 million. Tanimu attended the court session. According to the charges, on May 18, 2020, Echefu, acting as Managing Director of Briechberg Investment Limited, obtained N150 million from Tanimu, who manages Kalsiyam Farm, claiming it was for telecom equipment.

The money was deposited into Investment Limited’s Zenith Bank account number 1015561485. On the same day, Echefu allegedly received another N380 million and N400 million from Tanimu for the same purpose, also deposited into the same account. Additionally, Tanimu made two separate payments of N15 million each into the account.

Prosecution counsel Sylvanus Tahir argued against bail, citing the defendants’ risk of flight and their evasion of arrest since June 2023. Defense counsel Eyitayo Fatigun requested bail for the defendants, referencing an October 2023 bail application and a recent affidavit filed on June 5. Tahir opposed this, emphasizing their evasion and asking for an expedited hearing.

Justice Ekwo queried Tahir about whether the EFCC had granted the defendants administrative bail before, to which Tahir confirmed.




Victoria Ibiama