Digital Switch Over: Payment of N2.5bn to Pinnacle Didn’t Violate FG White Paper – ICPC Investigator

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The payment of N 2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communications Limited by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) did not violate any provision of the Federal Government’s 2012 White Paper on Implementation of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project.

An Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) investigator, Charles Adama, admitted this on Thursday while testifying before the Federal High Court hearing the matter in Abuja.

The investigator, who had earlier maintained that the payment of N2.5billion seed grant to Pinnacle Communications Limited by NBC was contrary to the recommendations of the White Paper, could not cite the particular section violated when asked to point it out from a copy of the White Paper given to him during cross-examination.

Adama also disclosed that, although the ICPC normally acts on petitions received,  there was no petition against Pinnacle Communications Limited and neither has the Presidency, which approved funding for the DSO project, lodged any complaints about the company, but he said there was a petition against ITS, the government-licensed signal distributor for DSO that was paid N1.77 billion.

The ICPC investigator revealed that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, did not make a written statement on the matter when ICPC investigators visited him for questioning, saying he needed clearance from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Adama further told the court that the Minister had still not made a written statement and had not withdrawn his approval of the payment to Pinnacle Communications Limited.

The ICPC investigator claimed he did not know that the National Launch of the DSO was performed by  Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari on the site of the Pinnacle Broadcast Centre on Mpape Hill, Abuja in December 2016, months before the payment made to Pinnacle Communications Limited because they did not visit the site or the Kaduna Broadcast Centre during investigations.

He said he was aware that Pinnacle Communications Limited paid over N600 million for the signal distributor licence in 2014 but did not know that it subsequently took NBC to court for breach of the licence agreement which was withdrawn following negotiations initiated by the Buhari administration in 2016 to resume DSO implementation.

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