The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission said it had commenced an investigation into the alleged N2.5bn fraud levelled against the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation Director-General, Moddibo Kawu, and other top officials of the NBC.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, the ICPC said that the money involved was a grant released to the agency by the Federal Government for its digital switch-over programme.
The anti-graft agency stated that Kawu and others had been quizzed.
The ICPC said, “The Presidency in 2016, released N10bn 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 commission also alleged that Kawu fraudulently recommended a private company, Pinnacle Communications Limited, to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, for the release of the money against the guidelines contained in the said White Paper.
The statement added, “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.
“Also investigation revealed that another N450m 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 PCL, Mr Lucky Omoluwa, in his Kaduna residence.”
The commission said Omoluwa refused to honour its invitations and that he sought the leave of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to stop the investigation as well as to unfreeze the Zenith Bank account of the company that was frozen by the ICPC.