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DSO: NBC DG Kawu, others fault ICPC’s alleged N2.5bn fraud case against them

Digital Switchover (DSO): From Analogue to Digital Broadcasting

Alexander Davis

Ishaq Kawu Modibbo, Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), and three others have faulted the case by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), connecting the foursome with the alleged N2.5billion fraud in the disbursement of the seed grant for the Federal Government of Nigeria’s much troubled Digital Switchover (DSO) project.

The DSO involves the change from analogue broadcast mode into a digital transmission method.

Sources informed ConsumerConnect that Kawu, Lucky Omoluwa, Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited, and Dipo Onifade, the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), who are being tried on a charge filed by ICPC, argued that the prosecution has failed to establish their involvement in the alleged crime.

Reports indicate that the defendants, in their no-case submission adopted Monday, February 10, disputed that the prosecution has failed through all its witnesses to make out a prima facie case against them.

Kawu’s lawyer, Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN), urged the court to discharge and acquit his client on the three counts of the charge relating to him (Kawu).

Mustapha argued that none of the nine witnesses called by the prosecution was able to establish the ingredients of the offences alleged to warrant his client to be called to enter a defence.

He contended that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution to discharge. The testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were full of contradictions and doubts, he said.

Mustapha contended that the prosecution’s failure to call Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister for Information and Culture, is vital to its case, since the Minister was said to have given the approval for the release of the funds for the implementation of the national DSO project.

He said: “A vital witness in this case was not called and the court was gracious to give ample time for the State (Nigeria) to call the Minister as witness but they failed.

“The onus lies on the State to call the Minister as a witness because he gave the approval for the release of N2.5billion grant for the Federal Government’s Digital Switch Over project.

“As we speak my lord, the Minister has not come out to deny giving the 1st defendant the approval, he has not queried the 1st defendant, he has not said anything other than applauding the achievements of the defendant as DG of NBC.

“My lord, for the Minister not to refute the approval, and not telling the court that he was misled nor say anything to the contrary, shows a big gap,” Mustapha submitted.

He argued that the controversial minutes of meeting of the NBC Management Board was of no value because it was not signed and adopted.

Mustapha urged the court to sustain his no case submission, and discharge and acquit the 1st defendant.

Alex Izinyon (SAN), lawyer to the 2nd and 3rd defendants, spoke in similar manner and noted that the prosecution failed to prove the essential ingredients outlined in sections 302 and 303 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

Izinyon noted that PW4 and PW9 said there was no complaint or petition against the defendant, but in the cause of investigation, they stumbled on the N2.5bn released to Pinnacle Communications (4th defendant).

“PW9 said the Minister said he was misled. The Minister is the mouthpiece of the Federal Government. It is not in the mouth of a technocrat to interpret the White paper on the DSO project,” Izinyon said.

He argued that the prosecution did not make any effort to correct the contradictions in the evidence of the witnesses.

Lawyer to the 4th defendant, Ama Etuwewe (SAN) equally prayed the court to discharge and acquit his client.

Etuwewe argued that the prosecution did not controvert the fact that the 4th defendant is a critical stakeholder in the DSO project of the FG.

In his counter argument, the prosecution lawyer, Henry Emore, however, urged the court to reject the defendants’ no-case submission, on the ground that the prosecution has proved its case.

Emore argued that there were no contradictions in the evidence of the witnesses, and that he has been able to link the defendants with the offence.

Sequel to the arguments by lawyers to both parties, Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo adjourned till March 29, 2020, for ruling.

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