A Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday heard that the N2.5 billion illegally released to Pinnacle Communications Limited as seed grant for the Digital Switch-Over (DSO) programme by the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Moddibo Kawu, was shared to charity organisations including family members and friends by the Chairman of the company, Lucky Omoluwa.
A witness, Charles Adama, who testified before Justice Folashade Ogunbajo-Giwa, in the ongoing trial of Kawu and two others over the N2.5 billion DSO fraud, brought against them by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), told the court that politicians, churches, and a gulf club were also beneficiaries of the jamboree by Omoluwa.
He said, “The N2.5 billion was shared to individuals, friends and family members by Omoluwa who is the sole signatory to the account of the company. The money was also given to gulf club, churches and top politicians and other charities.”
Adama further informed the court that the Chief Operating Officer of the company, Dipo Onifade, who is also standing trial over allegation of fraud, received N127 million as payment for legal services to a private firm, Dipo Onifade and Co. He added that Onifade who fixed N100 million of the said sum in fixed deposit account could not provide any evidence of tax payment.
The witness, led by Counsel to ICPC, Henry Emore, also told the court that N1.5 billion was fixed in the bank by Omoluwa for three months, which yielded N134 million interest.
Adama informed the court that findings on the illegal payment of the N2.5 billion seed grant to Omoluwa’s company came about as a result of a petition against Integrated Television Services (ITS), when cross-examined by Counsel to Kawu, A. S Moyosho.
The court heard that ITS, an affiliate company of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) received N1.77 billion as seed grant according to government White Paper guiding the DSO process and properly utilized the funds.
According to him, “The N1.77 billion was used for broadcast signal distribution meant for three cities but they covered four. They covered Jos, Abuja, Illorin and Oshogbo.”
Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa adjourned the matter to 27th May, 3rd, 4th, 26th of June and 4th July for accelerated trial.
Recall that Kawu, Omoluwa and Onifade are facing a 12-count charge bordering on abuse of office, money laundering and misleading a public officer with the intent to defraud the federal government in contravention of Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.