Digital switch-over: Plans to tarnish NBC boss, Kawu uncovered

…We’re unaware of any ICPC probe against DG- NBC spokeswoman
The raging media report over alleged fraud in the award of the Federal Government’s Digital Switch-Over (DSO) project has been described as a deliberate attempt targeted at tarnishing the good reputation of the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu.

The attack, The Daily Times gathered, might have been sponsored against Kawu whose profile has been on the rise on account of his role in ensuring the smooth migration of the country from analogue television broadcasting to digital broadcasting.

It was alleged that the NBC boss recommended a private firm, Pinnacle Communications Limited to the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for the award of the DSO contract to the firm as well as the release of N2.5 billion contract sum.

The report further alleged that Pinnacle Communications was not qualified to handle the project which is being spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

But contrary to these unfounded allegations, investigation has revealed that the firm won the competitive bid conducted by the then Director General of the NBC, Emeka Mba, while the said money was approved by the Presidency, and not the NBC boss.

Investigation further revealed that the Presidency had in 2016 released N10bn to the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to implement the digital switch over programme and a White Paper was issued directing that the process be specifically handled by two firms – Pinnacle Communications and ITS, an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) – as winners of the bid to handle the project.

A credible source, who spoke in confidence, told The Daily Times that, “Monies were released to these two firms by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture on the orders of the Presidency after the contracts were carried out”.

The source further absolved Kawu and Pinnacle Communications of any wrong doing, insisting that the alleged fraud was sponsored by an aggrieved rival company that lost out of the contract.

But the NBC in a swift reaction to the allegation, stated that it was not aware of any investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC) of its Director General, Mallam Kawu.

The commission’s spokesperson, Hajia Maimuna Jimada, said the NBC “is not aware of any fraud case involving the DG, and therefore not aware of any ICPC investigation on the DG.”

Jimada added that the commission had been carrying out the Digital Switch-Over scheme with utmost diligence and transparency, and would continue to do that till the project was completed nationwide.

The Daily Times recalls that Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo commissioned the Abuja project while that of the Kaduna was done by Governor Nasiru el Rufai.

But, fifth columnists recently accused the current NBC boss, Kawu and Pinnacle Communications of allegedly embezzling N2.5 billion meant to execute the DSO project, an allegation that has been dismissed as untrue.

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