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Digital switchover scam: NBC DG, Modibbo-Kawu arraigned, granted N100m bail

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THE Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Moddibbo-Kawu, was arraigned before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday for alleged complicity in the misapplication of the N2.5 billion seed grant for the Digital Switch-Over (DSO) programme of the federal government.

Modibbo-Kawu’s arraignment by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Thursday, alongside two other accused persons, followed several unsuccessful attempts due to the absence of the accused persons.

The other defendants in the case include Lucky Omoluwa and Dipo Onifade, Chairman and Chief Operating Officer respectively of Pinnacle Communications Limited. The company was also included as the fourth defendant in the suit.

The charges against them bothered on abuse of office, money laundering and misleading a public officer with the intent to defraud the federal government, which, according to the ICPC, contravened Section 26 (1) (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 19 of the same law.

One of the charges reads in part; “That you, Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, Lucky Omoluwa and Dipo Onifade sometime between December 2016 and May 2017, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired with each other to use the position of Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, as Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission to confer corrupt advantage on Lucky Omoluwa, your friend and associate by recommending to the Minister of Information to approve payment of the sum of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communications Limited, a private company owned by Lucky Omoluwa as ‘Seed Grant’ under the Digital Switch-Over Programme of the Federal Government of Nigeria when you knew that the said company was not entitled to receive such grant and 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.”

All three accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges and their counsels – A. U Mustapher, Alex Iziyon and A.V Etuwewe, for the first, second, and third respondents respectively – jointly asked the court to grant them bail on liberal terms.

However, counsel to the ICPC, Henry Emore, objected to the bail applications for Kawu and Omoluwa, saying that they had jumped the administrative bail granted them by the commission and could do so again. Emore also said he had no objection to Onifade’s bail application as he did not abuse his administrative bail.

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In her ruling, Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa admitted the accused persons to bail in the sum of N100 million each, with two sureties in like sums. The sureties must be reputable persons who must have landed properties within Abuja metropolis, the title documents of which must be submitted to the court.

One of the sureties must be a civil servant in the employment of the federal government on salary Grade Level 17, living within the jurisdiction of the court and must also show evidence of tax payment for the last five years.

Also, the accused persons were ordered to submit their international passports to the Deputy Court Registrar.

Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa ruled that the accused persons should still enjoy the administrative bail granted them by the ICPC for 10 more days by which time they must have perfected their bail conditions. Failure to fulfill the bail conditions within the given 10 days, the accused persons would be remanded in prison custody.

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