The raging media report of 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.
Close associates of the DG said the attack 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 company, 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 N2.5bn contract sum.
The report also 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 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 Director General.
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 companies– Pinnacle Communications and ITS, an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) – as winners of the bid to handle the project.
“Monies were released to these two companies by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture on the orders of the Presidency after the contracts were carried out”, a source, who pleaded to be anonymous, said.
The source absolved Kawu and Pinnacle Communications of any wrong doing, stressing that the alleged fraud was sponsored by an aggrieved rival company that lost out of the contract, he said.
The NBC in a swift reaction to the allegation said it was not aware of any investigation by the 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 said 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 across the country.
It would be recalled 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 embezzling a sum N2.5 billion meant to execute the DSO project, an allegation that has been dismissed as untrue.