Tom Iseghohi; why he was arrested

The detention and questioning first by the State Securities Services and later by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, of Mr. Tom Iseghohi, Group Managing Director of Transcorp and two other officials of Transcorp Plc, Mohammed Buba, Company Secretary, and the Head of Shared Services, Mike Okoli may not be unconnected with complains emanating from the presidency over the management of the nation’s former sole national carrier, NITEL, a now moribund company the Federal Government desperate wants vended off to a more competent and qualified core investor, away from the majority holding of Transcorp.
Fortune&Class Weekly usually reliable sources informed that the arrest of Iseghohi, who also doubled as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of NITEL, was long in coming and should not have surprised anybody, who had been closely following events as they unfold at NITEL.
“The fact is that NITEL has become a direct responsibility of the nation’s Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, at least, until the conclusion of the ongoing effort to sell of majority holding of NITEL to a new core investor as agreed between the Federal Government and the Board of Transcorp. However, what many people don’t know is that since the joint resolution to mutually surrender commensurate shareholdings to the new core investor, the people at Transcorp have been making all efforts to circumvent the purpose of the sell out to a new investor by attempting to strip NITEL of all viable assets,” the source said.
The source revealed that sometimes in the last quarter of 2008, Transcorp put together a subterranean plan to sell off the valued back-bone of the nation’s telecommunications industry, the South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable, also known as SAT-3.
“This was after Mr. Iseghohi and the board of Transcorp had made commitments in August 2007, through a contract with Cisco and Dimension Data to rehabilitate the SAT-3 which the Transcorp GMD had announced would fetch NITEL N35bllion. After the failure of the contract to rehabilitate SAT-3, again, Transcorp, led by the GMD, with the apparent backing of its Board of Directors, decided to completely sell off SAT-3, the telecommunications industry’s super highway,” the source explained.
“They actually intended to sell SAT-3 to themselves. Without the knowledge or acquiescence of the Vice President, they floated a special purpose company called the Nigerian Telecommunication Backbone Company Limited. It was this special purpose vehicle that they intended to use to buy out the telecommunication backbone of NITEL by way of stripping NITEL’s assets before the cessation of the majority holdings in the company is concluded.
“The implication is that by the time a new core investor takes charge of the NITEL the SAT-3 would have been purloined from the operational sphere of NITEL and would belong to this Nigerian Telecommunication Backbone Company Limited, and therefore be in the ownership orbit of Transcorp. Mr. Iseghohi had actually used his international link to make contact and mobilized funds for the purchase, but fortunately, the Vice-President got wind of the SAT-3 sell off at the last minute and he immediately called a halt to the transaction.
“This backroom transaction and the revelation of setting up dummy companies, using friends in the United States of America and other countries in Europe as fronts to secure juicy contracts with NITEL added up to the reason the Presidency must have made a formal complaint to the SSS and requested an investigation of Transcorp.
I believe the Chairman of the Transcorp is also on the list of officials of the company that would be investigated and prosecuted if found culpable in the stripping of assets of NITEL,” the source asserted.