The Federal Government has filed charges against the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Modibbo Kawu, Pinnacle Communications Limited; its founder, Lucky Omonuwa; and its Managing Director, Dipo Onifade, for alleged fraud to the tune of N2.5bn.
The charges were filed before a Federal High Court, Abuja, sequel to an investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.
According to court documents obtained by The PUNCH, 12 charges were preferred against the accused persons by Mr. Henry Emore and Adenekan Shogunle, on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The Presidency had in 2016, released N10bn to the Ministry of Information and Culture for the digital switch-over programme which entails migration of telephone lines from analogue to digital platforms and a White Paper was issued directing that the process be specifically handled by government-affiliated companies.
Based on the guidelines provided by the White Paper, two companies were nominated to handle the process, one of which was ITS, an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority.
About N1.7bn was released to it as seed grant for the commencement of the switch-over. However, the ICPC through investigation discovered that the process was fraught with alleged corrupt practices.
In the charges filed before the court, the government accused Kawu of “recommending to the Minister of Information to approve payment of the sum of N2.5bn to Pinnacle Communications Ltd, a private company owned by Sir Lucky Omonuwa as a ‘seed grant’ under the DigitalSwitch-Over programme of the Federal Government when you knew that the company was not entitled to receive such a grant an you 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.”
The government also accused Omonuwa of receiving N2.5bn in the Zenith Bank account of Pinnacle Communications Limited when he ought to know that the sum was the subject of an offence under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
Omonuwa was accused of transferring N167m out of the N2.5bn to one Daura Mamman, a bureau de change operator and thereafter taking the dollar equivalent of the sum in cash at his residence in Kaduna in contravention of Section 11(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.
Kawu and Pinnacle Communications had, however, denied the allegations levelled against them, describing the ICPC as being ignorant of the entire process of the contract award.
NYSC DG pays last respect to corps member who had his primary assignment with Channels TV, Precious Owolabi
The Director-General, National Youth Service Corps, Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, on Tuesday paid his last respect to Mr. Precious Owolabi, a corps member who had his primary assignment with the Channels TV Abuja office.
The DG, Ibrahim inspected Owolabi’s body shortly before it was removed from the National Hospital Abuja, for homeward journey.
Owolabi died on Monday after he sustained gunshot injuries during a violent confrontations between the Police and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) popularly known as Shi’ites.
NYSC members carry the remains of their colleague, Mr. Precious Owolabi, who was killed on Monday during a violent confrontation between Police and the Shi’ites. His body left the the National Hospital, Abuja on Tuesday.
Boko Haram conflict causing misery to millions 10 years on
Ten years since the beginning of a violent insurgency in northeast Nigeria, the living conditions for displaced people are continuing to deteriorate at an alarming rate due to inadequate and overcrowded facilities. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) calls for increased efforts to improve their living conditions and prevent an imminent cholera outbreak.
Ten years after the first attack launched by the armed group Boko Haram, more than two million people remain displaced from homes in northeast Nigeria, the highest number of any time over the last decade.
“Every week, people continue to flee violence and insecurity in northeast Nigeria. Many settle along the roadside or on empty strips of land, devoid of proper sanitation and water points,” says Eric Batonon, Country Director at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Nigeria.
Hundreds of thousands of people are living in overcrowded displacement sites far below international minimum standards and without proper access to latrines and clean water. Some have put up shelters made of wooden sticks and pieces of ripped fabric. These improvised shelters provide no protection against wind or rain and offer almost no privacy or security. Many don’t even have a door – leaving women, men and children highly vulnerable to intrusions and attacks.
More than 180,000 people are currently in need of shelter in Borno State with many sleeping in the open or in deplorable makeshift homes. As the rainy seasons gets underway, fears of another deadly outbreak of cholera are looming. Last year, 10,000 cholera cases were confirmed along with 175 recorded deaths, although the real figure is likely to have been much higher.
“People in Nigeria need safe pathways back to their homes and much better living conditions in the meantime. Displacement sites are dangerous, chaotic and entirely unsuitable for children. It is critical to decongest these overcrowded sites, provide people that have been forced to flee with safe, dignified facilities and prevent another deadly cholera outbreak,” Batonon adds.
The NRC is calling on donor countries to increase their financial support for relief to families trying desperately to survive in one of the world’s most volatile regions.
“Ten years on, it is harrowing to see families still crowding into make-shift shelters with inadequate drainage systems to remove rain water. The global humanitarian community, local and national authorities have to do much more and much better to improve the lives of these people,” says Batonon before concluding: “The world needs to scale up the relief work and send a message of hope to the more than seven million people in need of humanitarian assistance in northeast Nigeria. After a decade of conflict, we need to show them that they have not been forgotten.”
Over 200 Kidnap Victims Regain Freedom In Zamfara – Police
The Commissioner of Police in Zamfara, Mr Usman Nagogo says over 200 victims of kidnap have been received from their abductors in the last three weeks in the state.
Nagogo made this known at a news conference in Gusau on Monday.
The police chief said the bandits willingly returned and handover the victims to him as the leader of a peace and reconciliation initiative recently set up by Governor Bello Matawalle.
He explained: “Since the beginning of the peace and reconciliation initiative team assignment about three weeks ago now, we have received over 200 kidnap victims from Fulanis and Yansakai.
“We have sat with all the warring factions and they have understood that peace is the most important aspect of growth and development which is why they willingly return the victims,
“and await the promise made by the governor to re-establish grazing reserves, build hospitals and veterinary clinics, provide good drinking water and other amenities at Fulani settlements.
“At the moment, all the factions go to the markets that were closed due to the armed bandit activities while farmers go to the farms without any hindrance or threats,”.
The commissioner of police who urged residents to continue to pray for the success of the peace process and sustenance of peace in the state, cautioned politicians against politicising the effort so as to allow security agencies carry out their operations without diversion.
Some of the rescued victims told newsmen at the police command that they were tied like animals and without any shelter against rain or sun.
Some of the victims spent more than seven months in the hands of their abductors.
After their rescue, the victims were camped at the Government House, Gusau, where they received medical and psycho-social support services before they were reunited with their families.
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