Nigeria: N2.5 Billion Fraud - Suspended Broadcasting Commission DG Has Case to Answer - Court

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the suspended director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission, Ishaq Kawu, to defend his alleged involvement in a N2.5 billion fraud.

Mr Kawu alongside the late chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Lucky Omoluwa, and the chief operating officer of the same company, Dipo Onifade, were jointly charged before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, by the anti-corruption agency, ICPC.

The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission accuses them of "using (his) position to confer a corrupt advantage to a tune of N2.5 billion", a seed grant released to NBC by the federal government for the digital switch-over project.

According to the commission, the offences are in contravention of Section 26 (1) (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, and are punishable under Section 19 of the same law.

Mr Kawu, through his counsel, A. U. Mustapha, had submitted before the court in February 2020 that he had no case to answer, praying the court to absolve him of the charge brought against him by ICPC.

He was subsequently arraigned on May 2 and granted N100 million bail after pleading not guilty to all the charges.

Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa had also fixed the ruling on the no-case submission by Mr Kawu on March 26, but for the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic which led to closure of courts.

At a resumed hearing on Thursday, according to a statement by the ICPC, the court said that the commission had established a "prima facie against Mr Kawu, Onifade and Pinnacle Communications Limited and ruled that they had a case to answer."

However, Mr Omoluwa was struck out from the charge after his counsel, Alex Iziyon, told the court of his death from heart failure, in February this year.

The trial judge, before adjourning the matter to July 1,2, and 3, also granted the prayers of ICPC to amend the charge by removing the name of Mr Omoluwa.

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