DSO N2.5bn Contract Payment: Ex-Minister Lai Mohammed Vindicates Pinnacle Communication

Coalition of Civil Society Organizations comprising of Competence Governance for Accountability and Civic Trust and Beyond Boundaries Legacies Leadership initiative has finally made available to the media house statement of the former Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.

In his statement which was made available to the ICPC investigators taking responsibility for the approval of the N2.5 billion payment to Pinnacle Communications Limited by the National Broadcasting Commission under the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project.

In his statement dated June 13, 2019, made available to defence counsel in the alleged fraud case brought against the NBC DG Ishaq Modibbo Kawu and executives of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Lai Mohammed said he approved the payment “on the strength of” particular reference to section 11.2 (c) of the White Paper governing Implementation of the DSO in Nigeria by the NBC DG in recommending the payment to him for approval.

Lai Mohammed said section 11.2(c) of the White Paper “directed the NBC to put in place necessary conditions and ensure that close to a level playing field is achieved in reference to the significant advantage over new entrants enjoyed in the DSO ecosystem by the Government Signal Distributor, in this case the ITS that came out of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) which already had 157 transmission sites spread across Nigeria.”

The former minister added that the recommendation letter from NBC also recalled that ITS had already been paid N1.7 billion for DSO rollout in three states and therefore noted that the payment of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communications Limited would represent close to a level playing field that the White Paper called for.

He explained that by virtue of their position as chief executives of various parastatals under his ministry, he frequently relied on their expert professional advice when they sought his approval for projects.

” I wish to state categorically that there was no meeting in London between me and Pinnacle Communications Limited or its representatives regarding any form of payment to Pinnacle Communications Limited or its representatives,” Lai Mohammed declared in his hand written statement to ICPC.

The former minister further stated that he did not need to seek approval of the Federal Executive Council for the payment to Pinnacle Communications Limited since he already had a presidential directive that the money released, about N10 billion was to be used under his supervision for the Digital Switch Over (DSO).

“At this juncture, we the coalition of CSOs, are jointly issuing this press release signed by both the President of Competence Governance for Accountability and Civic Trust, Comrade Omoba Micheal and her Public Relation officer, Comrade Godwin Erheriene Oghenero, and the Executive Director of Beyond Boundaries Legacies Leadership Initiative, Comrade Omaga E. Daniel, are calling on the attention of ICPC to stop wasting taxpayers money without proper investigation and causing unnecessary delay in the full implementation of the Digital Switch Over (DSO).

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