FRAUD: Court summons Lai Mohammed over N2.5bn fraud case

The immediate-former Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, will appear before a Federal High Court in Abuja on his role in the Federal Government Digital Switch-Over program payment of N2.5bn by the National Broadcasting Commission.

According to a declaration signed by the spokesman for the Independent Corrupt Practices and other associated offenses Commission, Rasheedat Okoduwa, the ICPC lodged 12 charges before Justice Folashade Ogunbanko-Giwa against NBC Director General, Modibbo Kawu, Pinnacle Communications Limited’s Chairman, Lucky Omoluwa, and the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Dipo Onifade.

He added that the former minister was misled by the NBC DG in approving a private company with Government funds.

The ICPC is also prosecuting Kawu over alleged abuse of office and money laundering.

The commission said, “The participation of the former minister had been questioned after ICPC discovered during inquiries that the head of the NBC supposedly flouted a government white paper that governs the execution of the DSO program.

“However, in a declaration to the commission, Mohammed conceded that Kawu had misled him, as Osanato Olugbemi, a witness of the ICPC, said in court. Olugbemi, led by ICPC counsel, Henry Emore, also told the court that the NBC’s payment of N2.5bn as a seed grant to Pinnacle Communications Limited was suspect as only a government-owned company was authorized to profit from the White Paper grant.

“The court also heard that the procedures leading to the final payment of the fund to the private company were covered up in secrecy as disclosed by the minutes of an NBC emergency board meeting in which Pinnacle and not seed grant problems were discussed.”
The report said 47 suspicious transactions were initiated by Pinnacle Communications ‘ chairperson, Omoluwa, instantly after the funds were received on June 2, 2017.

The transactions include N363 m payments to one Idowu Olatunde, N274.4m payments to one James Segun and N127m to Onifade. Onifade clarified that he was paid the money as a legal fee he rendered to the company.

“A Bureau de change operator, Salisu Daura, who also testified in court, said that he received N167m in two N97m and N70m installments. Daura added that the amounts were changed into dollar which amounted to $265,000 and $195,735 at the rate of N360 per dollar and handed the money over to one Alhaji Sabo, supposedly on behalf of Pinnacle Communications,” the commission observed.

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