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MTN Chief Marketing Officer resigns over corruption probe

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MTN Nigeria Communications Plc has commissioned an investigation into the activities of its Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Ms. Adia Sowho who has been accused of misappropriating part of the N5 billion budgeted by the company for the commercial launch of its 5G Network in 2022.

The investigation has made the CMO to quickly tender her resignation last week, in a move many believe was done in a bid to avoid being indicted and dismissed for corruption.

MTN in September 2022 launched the 5G network in Lagos ushering in a new era of fast-speed internet connection in the country. Shortly after the launch, however, internal auditors discovered that parts of the funds budgeted for launch and marketing activities around it were misappropriated through inflation of contracts and other means.

Adia Sowho, who was appointed as the CMO in 2021, is being investigated after a discovery that she has been procuring many services from contractors at significantly higher rates than had been the practice before she joined the company two years ago.

A former staff of MTN’s marketing department who resigned and relocated overseas told Sahara Reporters that Adia Sowho has been accused by employees in her Division of suddenly changing contractors for many services being provided to the company and seeking to impose her own cronies on the company as contractors.

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According to the source who pleaded anonymity, “MTN used to work on Digital campaigns directly with a contractor called TRANSSION. She attempted to force the marketing team to switch to a vendor called Hippo AD. This would have been more expensive for MTN because Hippo AD would still have to deal with TRANSSION being the one that can provide those services effectively in Nigeria. This was an attempt by Adia Sowho to introduce a middleman and it was unnecessary. Luckily, the media team refused to budge so the plan fell apart. She has made efforts to punish those who kicked against it, afterwards.”

“At another time the Consumer Marketing team within the Marketing Division wanted to do a campaign for “Blow my Hustle” and they approached her to sign off on the campaign with a budget of just over N30 million. She tried to raise the budget to over N100,000,000 and wanted to give it to some of the new contractors that she uses to siphon funds. When they resisted an attempt to change the vendor and inflate the cost, she threatened that if they do not give it to the person she had asked them to give it to, she would approve only 7 million naira for the team and of course 7 million would not get the job done, so the team gave in.”

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“In another case of brazen corruption, she told the CVM team to pay a vendor to send bulk SMS to a target audience even though the CVM team is used to sending SMSes directly to customers at no cost. When she insisted, they gave in to her demands and they paid a company called “Out There Media” over 50million to do SMS blast. This was an unnecessary expenditure of company resources and an erosion of shareholders investment.”

“Adia has also continued to connive with another MTN contractor called SPV Communications to pad their invoices to MTN on their marketing activities. Suddenly, since her arrival, marketing costs for even simple services have become bloated.”

“Adia has also brought in Mckinsy consultants without following due process and the cost to keep McKinsey runs into billions of naira. Meanwhile, Mckinsey is not telling the business anything they don’t know . So they are basically doing nothing. We are yet to see the value as at the time i left and even to this day, colleagues who remain in MTN say everything Mckinsey is suggesting in the area of marketing are things already being done before they came.”

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