The police have recommended that MTN Nigeria Limited be prosecuted for deliberately suppressing information that some Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) leaders were in communication with the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami.
The police, in a report dated February 8, 2013 and signed by Ali Amodu, Commissioner of Police, X Squad, said an investigation revealed that there was communication between Salami and the ACN leaders while he was presiding over an election petition appeal filed by the party over the 2007 governorship election dispute in Osun State.
The report followed an investigation into a petition to the police by a former Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, wherein he alleged that Salami had an unholy relationship with the ACN leaders that influenced his judgment in the dispute between the ACN as well as Oyinlola and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Oyinlola, in the petition, accused MTN of conspiracy, forgery and perversion of the course of justice.
In the report, a copy of which was obtained by THISDAY, the police established that the Call Data Records (CDR) submitted to the National Judicial Council (NJC) to establish the fact that Salami communicated with the ACN bigwigs while presiding over the election petition appeal that removed Oyinlola from office was inadequate and did not properly reveal all the communication between the two parties.
The report quoted MTN as admitting not providing all the CDRs requested by the NJC but explained that it could not produce all the call logs due to lack of storage capacity.
Excerpts from the report read: "That GSM no 08034010700 belonging to Tunji Ijaya appeared to have been used as a link between GSM nos. 0803401111 (Lai Rauf Mohammed) 08062240104, 08034240000 (Bola Tinubu) and GSM no. 08034004887 belonging to Justice Ayo Salami as there was exchange of calls between Justice Salami and Tunji Ijaya in one hand and Tunji Ijaya with the other mentioned on the other hand.
"The exchange of phone calls spanned between September, 2010 to April, 2011.
"From the available CDRs, there is evidence of communication between Justice Salami and Tunji Ijaya who also communicated with most of the questioned GSM lines.
"The details and contents of the calls are not known due to the fact that MTN has not extracted voice and text messages on the lines on ground of legal limitations. They claimed there is no law empowering them to provide voice and text messages of their subscribers to security agencies.
"A legal advice received from Legal Section of the D Department, Force Criminal Investigation, Abuja dated 8th February, 2013, opined that MTN Nigeria should be prosecuted for an attempt to suppress evidence in this case as provided by Section 167(8) of the Evidence Act."
Oyinlola's petition to the police was premised on MTN call logs obtained by Area G Police Station in Ogba, Lagos, which indicated the existence of communication between Salami's GSM No 08034004887 with 08034010700, 08078092850 and 08034240000, which were said to belong to the top ACN members.
Oyinlola had told the police that when he reported the issue of the unholy relationship between Salami and the ACN chieftains to NJC, the council obtained the call logs from MTN through the State Security Service (SSS) and the National Security Adviser (NSA) but that MTN submitted incomplete call logs to the SSS and the NSA and held back communication which were crucial to prove the existence of unholy alliance between the two parties.
He said the call logs submitted to the NJC did not cover the required period and that the CDRs did not contain incoming calls.
The police during their investigation retrieved the CDRs obtained from MTN by the Area G Police Division.
They also collected the CDRs given to the NJC by the SSS and the NSA.
The report states: "Requests were made to the MTN to furnish the detail particulars of the subscribers of the listed GSM numbers and they responded as follows: 08034004887 belongs to Justice Salami; 08034240000 belongs to Bola Tinubu and 08034010700 belongs to Tunji Ijaiya."
The report stated that MTN admitted submitting incomplete calls log but said that it was based on what the company's storage capacity permitted.
In a cautioned response to the allegation of suppressing vital communication between Salami and ACN leaders, MTN General Manager (Commercial Legal Department), Oghenerumi Rotimi, said that the company maintained high ethical standards.
She explained that MTN was governed by code of consumer practice as approved by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to provide CDRs for a period of three months.
According to her, MTN can only keep call logs for three months due to the company's storage capacity owing to its teeming subscribers of about 40 million and huge requests made by security agents.
An MTN technical staff member, Mr. Mathew Okoromi, also gave evidence before the police.
In his response to the allegation that MTN failed to supply CDRs between September 1, 2010 and January 31, 2011 to the NSA and the SSS when requested, he said SSS applied for call logs for 240 days, while NSA's application covered 247 days.
According to him, this is above the telecoms giant’s storage capacity which is programmed to supply CDR for 90 days only.