ABUJA NIGERIA. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, is investigating the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, NBC, over the misapplication of the N2.5 billion seed grant released to the Corporation by the Federal Government, for its digital switch-over programme. The NBC is under direct supervision of the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.
The ICPC, in a statement signed by Rasheedat Okoduwa, its Spokesperson, revealed that it has so far quizzed the NBC Director-General, Ishaq Kawu, and other top management staff of the Corporation, over their alleged involvements in the misapplication of the fund.
Minister Accused Alhaji Lai Mohammed
The Presidency had in 2016, released N10 billion to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, for the digital switch-over programme, which entails migration of telephone lines from analogue to digital platforms, and a White Paper was issued directing that the process be specifically handled by government-affiliated companies.
Based on the guidelines provided by the White Paper, two companies were nominated to handle the process, one of which is an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA. About N1.7 billion was released to it as seed grant for the commencement of the switch-over.
However, the ICPC disclosed that through investigation, it discovered that the process was fraught with alleged corrupt practices.
“It was alleged that Mr. Kawu fraudulently recommended a private company, called Pinnacle Communications Limited, to Lai Mohammed the Minister of Information and Culture, for the release of N2.5 billion, against the guidelines contained in the White Paper.
NBC DG Ishaq Kawu
“The N2.5 billion was paid into the Zenith Bank account of Pinnacle Communications Limited, in May/June, 2017, for the programme.
“The DG NBC during interactions with the Commission, could not justify why the government White Paper was flouted, leading to the release of money to an unqualified company”, the statement said.
It added that the Managing Director of Pinnacle, Dipo Onifade, during interrogation, confirmed the release of the funds to the company. He could not justify that the money was used for the purpose of the digital switch-over.
The Commission also said through investigation, that it discovered several suspicious transfers of large sums of funds from the account of the company, into the bank accounts of several organisations and individuals allegedly with connections to the minister.
ICPC FCT Abuja Nigeria
It found out that N100 million of the funds was paid into the personal bank account of Mr. Onifade, in Zenith Bank, which he claimed was for legal services that he had rendered to the same Pinnacle Communications, where he is employed.
Also, investigation revealed that another N450 million was transferred into the account of Sabdat Investment Limited, a Bureau de Change, which then converted the money into dollars, and handed it over to the Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Lucky Omoluwa, in his Kaduna residence, as he usually did with other funds.
Omoluwa had repeatedly failed to honour invitations, the Commission said.
More details later ……