Journalism of Courage

Lai Mohammed to face court over claims he was misled by NBC DG in N2.5b money laundering scam

Prosecutors from the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), said the immediate past Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed  will appear before a Federal High Court, Abuja, to explain his role in the alleged misappropriation of N2.5 billion Federal Government Digital Switch-Over (DSO), programme.

The Commission said that Alhaji Mohammed admitted in a statement to the ICPC that he was misled by the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibbo Kawu.

Spokesperson of the ICPC, Rasheedat Okoduwa said the former Minister’s involvement had come under questioning following the discovery by ICPC during investigations, that a government White Paper that governs the execution of the DSO programme was allegedly flouted by the NBC, a parastatal under the ministry of information.

ICPC had filed a 12-count charge before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, against Kawu, Lucky Omoluwa and Dipo Onifade, the Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Pinnacle Communications Limited respectively, saying that the NBC director general misled the former Minister into approving government funds to a private company.

A witness said that the payment of N2.5 billion from NBC to Pinnacle Communications Limited, as seed grant was suspicious because the ICPC found out through its investigations that only government-owned company was approved to benefit from the grant according to a White Paper.

“The court also heard that the processes that led to the final payment of the fund to the private company were shrouded in secrecy as revealed by the minute from an NBC emergency board management meeting, where issues of carriage fees owed Pinnacle and not seed grant was discussed, said Okoduwa.

“He told the court that 47 suspicious transactions were originated by the Chairman of Pinnacle Communications, Omoluwa, immediately after the receipt of the funds on June 2, 2017,” she added.

She said the transactions include payments of N363 million to one Idowu Olatunde, N274.4 million to one James Segun and N127 million to Dipo Onifade, the Chief Operating Officer of the company. The ICPC informed the court that Omoluwa refused to explain the reasons for the payments to Olatunde and James when asked by ICPC, but Onifade explained that he received the N127 million as legal fees he rendered to Pinnacle Communications Limited.

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