NBC faults ICPC on alleged N2.5 billion fraud in Pinnacles communications deal
The Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Modibo Kawu, has faulted the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over the alleged N2.5 billion DSO transaction fraud between the commission and one of the signal distributors for Digital Switch Over (DSO), Pinnacles Communications. Kawu said there was nothing fraudulent in the transaction between the commission and Pinnacles Communications, adding that the firm was paid for services rendered just the way the 1st signal distributor (ITS) was paid.
(ICPC) had last week announced that it was probing Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over alleged misapplication of N2.5 billion meant for digital switchover.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has given an approval for 25 new Television licenses.
While speaking with journalists in Abuja, Kawu said there were a lot of inaccuracies in the statement issued by the ICPC, adding that NBC was only handling the transition from analogue to digital television and has nothing to do with telephony. He explained that Pinnacles Communications was licensed as the second national signal distributor in 2014, noting that the company came in through competitive open bidding process which was conducted long before he became the DG of NBC.
Kawu pointed out that Pinnacles Communications paid N680 million licenses fee to the commission but along the line the firm went into dispute with NBC over the content of their license.
According to him, the firm took NBC to court over the dispute but upon his appointment, “Getting Pinnacle out of court became a central issue; they agreed to settle out of court and as part of packages of resolution we reached to get them out of court, they were appointed the signal distributor for switch over in Abuja and they had a very narrow window. Pinnacles installed some of the best broadcasting equipment in the world; their quality was up to standard for our processes. They were given assignment to procure and install equipment for Kaduna switch over, and they have not been off air for once since December 2016.”
Kawu noted that section 11:2 of the government, ‘White Paper on DSO’ provided that NBC should put in place necessary conditions close to a level playing field for the 2nd signal distributor because the Ist Signal distributor has facilities all over the country while the second signal distributor comes with a disadvantage.
He stated, “So this is the context within which payments were made. We did not know when the N10 billion was released by government; it came with instructions that the money should be used for the DSO process and supervised by the Minister of Information. Every single payment we have made, was made with the approval of the minister. We have paid the signal distributors, set-top box manufacturers, content providers, and content aggregators. We have paid partly call agents who work with NBC; we have paid partly satellite provider; we have spent money to train staff and some members of the National Assembly on DSO.”
Kawu, who observed that NBC paid the 1st signal distributor about N1.7 billion, said the 1st signal distributor has facilities all over the country. He noted that as at the moment the money was paid to ITS, the exchange rate was N165.00 to dollar while the exchange rate stood N380.00 per dollar when the N2.5billion was paid to Pinnacles communications in 2017.