Former Econet CEO Details How Ex-Gov Chased Econet Out From Nigeria Over Non-Payment Of $4.5Million Bribe
Strive Masiyiwa, CEO and Founder of Econet Wireless has alleged that a sum of $9million bribe was demanded from him by ex-Governor of Delta State, James Ibori.
In his words: “Then came the fateful day when I was told that our company must pay a total of $9m in bribes to senior politicians (in state government) who had facilitated the raising of the money to pay for the license.
“I refused to authorize the illegal payments. Meeting after meeting was held to try to get me to agree, but I would not. The money would not be paid as long as Econet was the operator and I had signing authority.
“James Ibori, the Governor of Delta State, was demanding $4,5m be paid to him in his personal capacity. He was one of the most powerful men in the country and had a reputation for violence.
“When he heard that I was refusing to approve payment he issued an ultimatum: “Pay or I will chase you and your people out of the country.” I refused. The shareholders met and voted Econet Wireless Nigeria out of management. They cancelled our management contract.
James Ibori and his colleagues personally attended the meeting to remove us. After the meeting one of them (a prominent local businessman even today) came up to me and said: “Unfortunately for you, God does not have a vote.” I had to withdraw all my staff and their families: 200 people in all. We left Nigeria.
A consortium of 22 investors that include leading banks, businessmen, Lagos State and Delta State government put up $285m to bid for the licence of Econet Nigeria under ex- President Olusegun Obasanjo.
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