ICPC ‘drags’ Lai to court over ‘N2.5bn fraud’

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The Independent Corrupt Practice and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has asked Lai Mohammed, a former minister of information, to appear at a federal high court in Abuja over an alleged N2.5 billion fraud case involving the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

ICPC is prosecuting Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, NBC director-general, over “abuse of office and money laundering”.

The commission had filed a 12-count charge against Kawu, Lucky Omoluwa and Dipo Onifade, chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited respectively.

In a statement on Thursday, the anti-graft agency said Mohammed was invited to explain his role after it conducted a probe.

“A government White Paper that governs the execution of the DSO programme was allegedly flouted by the head of NBC,” the statement read.

“Mohammed had however admitted in a statement to the Commission that he was misled by Kawu, as opined in court by a witness from ICPC, Osanato Olugbemi.

“Olugbemi, led in evidence by counsel to ICPC, Henry Emore, also told the court that the payment of N2.5 billion from NBC to Pinnacle Communications Limited, as seed grant was suspicious because ICPC found out through its investigations that only government owned company was approved to benefit from the grant according to the White Paper.”

ICPC said, according to a minute of an NBC emergency meeting, it was learnt that the final payment to the company was shrouded in secrecy.

The anti-graft agency said Olugbemi also told the court that 47 suspicious transactions were originated by the chairman of Pinnacle Communications after the receipt of the funds on June 2, 2017.

“The transactions includes payments of N363 million to one Idowu Olatunde, N274.4 million to one James Segun and N127 million to Dipo Onifade, the Chief Operating Officer of the company,” it read.

“He informed the court that Omoluwa refused to explained the reasons for the payments to Olatunde and James when asked by ICPC, but Onifade explained that he received the N127 million as legal fees he rendered to Pinnacle Communications Limited.

“A Bureau de Change operator, Salisu Mamman Daura, who also testified in court, said he received N167 million in two installments of N97 million and N70 million respectively, from Pinnacle Communications Limited.”

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