NBC DG, others under ICPC probe over alleged N2.5bn fraud

NBC DG, others under ICPC probe over alleged N2.5bn fraud

The fund under probe was from a N10 billion grant released to the agency in 2016 for a digital switch-over programme.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Dr Moddibo Kawu, and other officials of the agency are being investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) over alleged fraud involving N2.5 billion.

This was disclosed in a statement by the ICPC's spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

The anti-graft agency disclosed that the fund under probe was from a N10 billion grant released to the agency by the Federal Government in 2016 for a digital switch-over programme.

The agency accused Kawu of engaging in corrupt practices through the process of awarding contracts for the handling of the programme.

The statement read, "The Presidency in 2016, released N10 billion to the Ministry of Information and Culture 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 was ITS, an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority. N1.7bn was released to it as seed grant for the commencement of the switch-over. However,  the ICPC through investigation discovered that the process was fraught with alleged corrupt practices.

"The money was paid into the Zenith Bank account of Pinnacle Communications Limited in May/June 2017 for the programme. The NBC DG 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 Managing Director of PCL, Dipo Onifade, during interrogation confirmed the release of the fund to the company but could not justify that the money was used for the purpose of digital switch-over.

"The commission through investigation discovered several suspicious transfers of a large sum of money from the account of the company into the bank accounts of several organisations and individuals. It found out that N100m was paid into the personal bank account of Onifade in Zenith Bank,  which he claimed was for legal services."

The ICPC also disclosed 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 Lucky Omoluwa, the Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited, a private company that Kawu allegedly fraudulently recommended to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

Omoluwa had initially refused to honour the agency's invitations for questioining and filed an application before the Federal High Court, Abuja, to stop the investigation as well as unfreeze the Zenith Bank account of the company that was frozen by the ICPC.

However, the court ordered him to appear before the ICPC for interrogation before the next adjourned date of December 3 before his case would be heard.

"In compliance with the court order, Mr. Omoluwa has appeared before the Commission where he made useful statements to investigators," the statement added.

Source: news

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