Nigerian government drags NBC boss, Modibbo Kawu, others to court over N2.5bn fraud

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The Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr. Modibbo Kawu, is in court answering charges of fraud lodged against him and others by the federal government of Nigeria.

Insiders say there are moves to force the embattled boss of the NBC to vacate his seat while he answers charges leveled against him by the federal government.

Twelve (12) charges were lodged against Mr. Kawu by Henry Emore and Adenekan Shogunle, on behalf of the attorney-general of the federation. The other accused persons are Pinnacle Communications Limited; its founder, Lucky Omonuwa; and its Managing Director, Dipo Onifade. All are charged with defrauding the government to the tune of N2.5bn.

The charges were filed following an investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

According to the suit, the federal government in 2016 released N10 billion to the ministry of information and culture for the digital switchover programme, aimed at the migration of telephone lines from analogue to digital platforms.

A White Paper was issued directing that the process is explicitly handled by government-affiliated companies.

The amount of N1.7 billion was subsequently as seed grant for the commencement of the switchover.

During its investigation, the ICPC said it discovered that the process was fraught with corrupt practices and alleged that Kawu fraudulently recommended Pinnacle Communications Limited, a private company, to the ministry for the release of N2.5 billion against the guidelines contained in the White Paper.

Kawu’s action contravenes Section 26(1)(c) and is punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, reads the charges.

The government accused Kawu of “recommending to the Minister of Information to approve payment of the sum of N2.5bn to Pinnacle Communications Ltd, a private company owned by Sir Lucky Omonuwa as a ‘seed grant’ under the Digital Switch-Over programme of the Federal Government when you knew that the company was not entitled to receive such a grant an you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 26(1)(c) and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

The government also accused Omonuwa of receiving N2.5bn in the Zenith Bank account of Pinnacle Communications Limited when he ought to know that the sum was the subject of an offence under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

Further, the charges read that Omonuwa illegally transferred N167m out of the N2.5bn to one Daura Mamman, a bureau de change operator and thereafter taking the dollar equivalent of the sum in cash at his residence in Kaduna in contravention of Section 11(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.

However, Kawu and Pinnacle Communications have both denied the allegations. The accused are to make their defense in the weeks ahead.


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