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Pinnacle Model School, Enugu holds its 2019 Inter-House Sports

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Sports

Pinnacle Model School, Enugu, held its 2019 Inter-House Sports competition on Thursday, with the Yellow House emerging the overall winner with nine medals.

A breakdown of the medals, showed that the house garnered five gold and four silver medals to beat the other four houses.

The Green House came second, winning four gold, one silver and five bronze medals, while the Red House finished third with three gold, five silver and one broze medals.

The Pink House came fourth with two gold, four silver and two bronze medals, whereas Blue House won two gold, two silver and three bronze medals to take the sixth position.

Mrs Joy Ekemike, the proprietoress of the school, which comprises nursery, primary and secondary schools, said that the competition was meant to provide the students with the necessary recreation.

“The competition will offer the students some relief from the stress of leaning,” Emenike said.

She also said that it would help to prepare them mentally and psychologically for the remaining part of the term.

“Our 2019 Inter-House Sports is a great occasion for the administrators, teachers, pupils and the students.

”This is an annual event for the school and it provides healthy competition for the students, who naturally like sports,” she said.

She expressed delight that all the five houses in the school, including the nursery section, performed very well.

Also, the school’s coach, Olusegun Alebio, hailed the children for their wonderful performance.

Alebio expressed happiness that the event had recorded great improvement since its inception in 2006 and described this year’s edition as more exciting than the previous ones.

A Senior Secondary School Two student, Imo Deberechi, said that she felt happy participating in the competition.

“I have been taking part in the game from my Primary Two to date but this year’s edition is the most successful,” Deberechi said.

 

 

 

 

 

Judiciary

Pinnacle loses chairman, CEO at 66

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Pinnacle Communications Limited, an indigenous Digital Switch Over firm has lost its founder, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sir Lucky Omoluwa, aged 66.

Mr Dipo Onifade, the company’s Chief Operating Officer disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

“With a heavy heart we announce the passing onto glory of the Founder and Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Sir Lucky Omoluwa on Tuesday, Feb. 18, after a brief illness.

“Sir Omoluwa , who was full of life, had his breakfast around  9 a.m. the same day and was preparing for his usual busy daily activities before the unfortunate incident.

“In an environment where honesty and forthrightness are increasingly fading from noble men, Sir Lucky Omoluwa consistently demonstrated the highest values in business, integrity, forthrightness and loyalty to just courses.

“A fighter who never wavered from the path of truth nor backed down from his firm belief in fighting for what is right irrespective of circumstances.

“He will be greatly missed on this side of the divide. His touches of excellence, swift wit, large heart, deftness, unwavering loyalty to relationships and boundless charm will always be with us’’, Onifade said.

Onifade explained that the deceased, who was born March 6, 1954 and bestowed with the United Nation Peace Ambassador, was an illustrious entrepreneur.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Omoluwa was also the founder of Pinnacle Investments Ltd, The Centagon International School and Tarmac Works Ltd respectively.

“As Chairman of Pinnacle Communication Ltd, he brought the most needed revolution to the broadcast engineering industry in Nigeria whilst representing Harris Corporation (now Gates Air), the largest manufacturers of Radio and Television transmitters in the World.

“Sir Omoluwa has leveraged on his dexterity in wireless engineering to ensure that Pinnacle Communications wins a Carrier License for Broadcasting Signal Distribution (BSD), made available by the Federal Government of Nigeria for transition from analogue to digital broadcasting’’, he said.

NAN recalls that the deceased was in 2012 awarded a Special Congressional Recognition by the U. S. Congress in Washington DC.

Omoluwa had consistently won international awards across four continents in Global Best Business Practices, Outstanding Performances, Outstanding Commitment to Business Ethics, Outstanding Trade Contributions among others.

The late business mogul was also a recipient of Dr Kwameh Nkrumah Merit Award.

Omoluwa, a devoted catholic and a member of the Religion of Peace, New York, U.S. was Knighted by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

“With an alloyed love for the game Golf, he enthusiastically promoted the game through sponsorship of amateur and professional competitions in Nigeria.

“He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Kaduna Golf Club, The Prestigious IBB Golf club and the Country Club, Abuja.

“The Patron of Nigerian- American Chamber of Commerce, Kaduna touched many lives. Everyone who came in contact with him can attest with life changing stories’’, Onifade said.

Onifade further said: “Sir Lucky Omoluwa has written his name in history with the stylus of diamond’’.

“ He has made an indelible mark on who we are today; we will keep his legacy of selfless service, outstanding stewardship, unusual simplicity and integrity flourishing and glowing’’, he said.

Onifade explained that Omoluwa was survived by his wife, Nosen, children and grandchildren.

NAN reports that Omoluwa’s popularity in the media space grew in lips and bounds when the federal government instituted a criminal suit against Pinnacle communications over alleged impropriety in the payment of N2.5 billion seed grant for the Digital Switch Over contract the firm won.

The deceased and other defendants in the suit had described the action as inconsistent with the White Paper that guided the Digital Broadcasting Switch-Over project.

NAN recalls that the Federal High, Abuja on Feb.10 fixed March 26 to rule on a motion of no-case-submission filed by Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Modibo Kawu over this acclaimed inordinate disbursement of N2.5 billion Federal Government Digital Switch Over project.

Pinnacle Communications Ltd, Omoluwa and Onifade were the others whose similar motions would be decided on the next adjourned date.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had in a 12-count charge, accused them of abuse of office, money laundering and misleading a public officer with the intent to defraud the federal government.

According to the anti-graft body, the alleged offences were in contravention of Section 26 (1) (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 19 of the same law.

Dr Alex Izinyo, SAN, Counsel for both Omoluwa and Onifade averred that the prosecution had failed to meet the minimum standard in criminal prosecution, adding that no criminal actions had been linked with his clients.

Izinyon explained that Sections 302 and 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act made it easier for the court to consider the merit of this case.

The counsel for Omoluwa had said it was not a enough to prove a mere prima facie in criminal trial, adding that all evidence must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

“The burden of proof lies with the prosecution and not the defendants as they have done in this regard. The prosecution has in this instance asked us to prove out guilt.

“From the surface meaning of the charge, the prosecution fails to establish the nucleus of the offences, but went ahead to rob my clients with an offence of conspiracy.

“How could the prosecution claim that the applicants conspired when the root of the main offence is yet to be ascertain. The question to be asked is what exactly is the offences of my clients?’’

“The prosecution team was unable to establish my clients’ offences before they went on to close their case. It is on the strength of this that we pray the court to uphold our no-case-submission’’, Izinyon had argued.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza

 

 

 

 

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N1bn damages: Court refuses to remove Zenith bank in suit filed by Pinnacle Comm

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The Federal High Court Abuja on Friday, dismissed an application by Zenith bank asking court to remove its name from a suit filed by Pinnacle Communications Ltd (PCL) against Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

PCL had in July 2018, dragged ICPC and Zenith bank to court for unlawfully withholding its money domiciled in Zenith bank without a valid court order.

The company is asking for N1billion damage against the defendants.

Ruling on the preliminary objection brought by Zenith bank, (the second defendant), the judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo dismissed it on the grounds that it was frivolous and a waste of the court’s time.

Justice Taiwo held that the counsel to the commercial bank, Mr Okey Ojukwu ought not to have filed the application since a ruling delivered by a court of the same hierarchy on December. 14, 2018 on the matter was unambiguous.

The judge said that the ruling of Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, on the issue was an interlocutory injunction and could in no way be interpreted as the final judgment in the suit.

Taiwo further opined that the objection by the bank was filed out of misconception and only amounted to a waste of the court’s precious time.

“The application of the second defendant is an invitation to this court to sit on appeal on the decision of my learned brother Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of Dec.14, 2018.

“This court, with all due respect to the second defendant shall not fall into that error.

“The application is not only incompetent and an abuse of court process, it is one brought without carefully and painstakingly understanding the ruling my learned brother gave on the interlocutory injunction,” the judge said.

The judge warned that such applications should not be brought to court as they only ended up wasting the time of the court.

“This type of application should be discouraged by the court and counsel, and to discourage counsel from filing such frivolous application, the court must come down hard on counsel who filed such applications either on their own or on the instruction of their client.

“I therefore find no merit in this application and it is accordingly dismissed having held that the application is frivolous, time wasting, incompetent and an abuse of court process.

“I shall fail in my duty as a judge if I do not award cost. Therefore, I award N100,000 against the second defendant in favour of the plaintiff,” Justice Taiwo held.

He adjourned the matter until March 5 to continue hearing in the substantive suit.

In the substantive suit, Pinnacle Communications is seeking a declaration that the act of ICPC in ordering Zenith bank to place a “post-no-debit” restriction on its account  without any court order is unlawful and a breach of the plaintiff’s right to its movable property.

“A declaration that the act of Zenith bank in placing a “post-no-debit” restriction on its account  without any court order and or any valid order is unlawful, injurious, unconstitutional and a breach of the plaintiff’s right to its movable property.”

Edited By: Gregg Mmaduakolam/Sadiya Hamza

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Defence/Security

We stumbled on your property, ICPC replies Pinnacle

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has threatened legal action against 44 property owners including two buildings in Abuja belonging to Pinnacle Communications Ltd.

In a letter to the Management of Pinnacle Communications, ICPC also dismissed allegation by the digital telecommunication company that its operatives illegally invaded their Abuja office on Jan. 15.

A copy of the ICPC letter, dated Jan. 24 and signed by the agency’s Director of Operations, Mr Akeem Lawal, was made available to the Nigeria News Agency on Sunday.

The company had claimed that the two buildings in question housed its operational office on Charles De Gualle Street, Asokoro, Abuja, that was allegedly invaded by operatives of the ICPC.

On Jan. 21, Pinnacle Communications held a news conference alleging that the ICPC operatives attempted to break into its office in a bid to arrest its Chairman and Managing Director.

Speaking through its lawyer, Mr Abayomi Oyelola, the company had described the “invasion’’ as despicable and contemptuous since a fraud case instituted by ICPC against it was pending in court.

But in its response, the anti-graft agency said its operatives stumbled on the buildings while investigating a “totally different” case of tax evasion.

The commission said the buildings were among 44 property (buildings and plots of land) whose list was forwarded to it by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for investigation.

The commission said FIRS requested the investigation after the ownership of the property was denied upon efforts to make their owners pay the relevant tax due.

According to ICPC, Pinnacle Communications was not mentioned as owners of any of the property on the list attached to the letter from FIRS.

It said its operatives arrived at the building in a bid to ascertain their coordinates and mappings as indicated by FIRS and confirmed by the FCT Department of Land Administration.

The commission dismissed Pinnacle’s “skewed and misleading’’ allegation as an attempt to link an honest investigative exercise with “the almost concluded case’’ against its chairman and others.

It further said that its operatives “do not go out to arrest persons in the course of locating property under investigation’’, contrary to the company’s allegation that they were there to kidnap the chairman.

“The reference at the briefing to the alleged lamentation of our staff `that they should have shot their way into the premises as soon as they arrived,’ is definitely far from the truth in the face of a legion of over ten armed mobile policemen on your premises.

“The commission deplores the bad faith evident in your media briefing and finds it really unprofessional that one of your counsels in the criminal case before the court, Abayomi Oyelola, who accosted our operatives after they had been denied entry into the premises by the policemen, was the same person that addressed the media on behalf of your company.

“Rather than come to our office the next day January, 16, 2020 as he had promised our officers, he thought otherwise and held a media briefing with the sole objective of painting the commission in bad light,’’ it said.

ICPC said since Pinnacle Communications had now claimed ownership of the two buildings, it should proceed to resolve the issue of ownership with the FCTA and tax evasion with FIRS.

The anti-graft agency gave the company three weeks from the date of the letter to act accordingly as it was prepared to take further legal actions on all the property.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ali Baba-Inuwa

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Judiciary

Coy urges AGF to investigate ICPC operatives over alleged invasion of Pinnacle

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Pinnacle Communications, a licensed digital switch-over operator in Nigeria has urged the Attorney-General of the Federation,  Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, to swiftly investigative operatives of ICPC who recently made unlawful attempt to break into its office in Asokoro area of FCT without any court warrant.

Mr Abayomi Oyelola, Counsel for the company made the plea at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja.

Oyelola said the intervention of the Minister of Justice was immediately required to compel the anti-corruption body to observe the rule of law.

“This will help to deflate the obvious display of prejudice in the agency’s dealings with Pinnacle.

The Management of Pinnacle Communications is compelled to address you, the members of the exalted fourth estate of the realm in view of  January 15 distasteful invasion of its operational office by operatives of the ICPC.

“By way of introduction, pinnacle communications is a licensed digital switch-over operator in Nigeria that has so far been conducting its businesses in line with the laws of the land.

“The import of this is to draw the attention of the appropriate authorities and the general public to the despicable, unwarranted, and illegal invasion of the company’s office located on Charles DeGualle Street, Asokoro, Abuja by operatives of the ICPC.

“The action was no doubt, a dastardly and gangster-like manner with an acclaimed “order from above’’ to arrest the company’s Chairman and Managing Director as well as seal the Pinnacle Operational office.

“The operatives and policemen came fully armed in four vehicles, 3 hilux vans and a car, garbed in ICPC jackets that authenticated their identities. The company’s security cameras had captured the incidence with available footage as evidence.

“During the encounter, Pinnacle communications officials demand the warrant of arrest and order of court that legally gave them the impetus.

“The operatives failed to produce any document. Rather they claimed that they were working with geographical coordinate. Whatever that means in anti-corruption parlance’’, Oyelola said.

Oyelola further said: “after Pinnacle officials made some calls to report the brazen and unpleasant incident in the presence of the invaders, one of the ICPC operatives answered a call’’.

According to him, the ICPC official precedes to hand the phone to one of his colleagues that appeared to have led the operation.

He explained that Pinnacle officials could hear the conversation of the operative saying: “we are here already’’, “we have not entered’’, “they claim he is not around’’, “No pressmen, nobody’’.

“Afterwards, the operative on the telephone suddenly said to his colleagues “let’s go let’s go let’s go’’, and they left hurriedly in that botched operation’’.

The Pinnacle officials heard the operative lamenting on their way to their vehicles that they should have shot (gunshot) their way into the premises as soon as they arrived.

According to him, the invasion amounts to regulatory terrorism.

“ This illegal attempt to harass and intimidate the company and its officials further confirms that, ICPC has been on a witch-hunt mission from the beginning.

“Pinnacle as a law abiding entity expresses concern on this show of dastardly act undertaken by ICPC.

“ As law abiding citizens, we are urging the ICPC’s Chairman, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, to respect the rule of law and call his men to order so as to forestall actions that could further tarnish the image of the commission’’, Oyelola said.

When contacted on the matter, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, the Public Relations Officer of the ICPC, said the commission heard about the incident.

She said that she was not in the position to respond.

”It is only the Chairman that can react. He is out of town for an official trip and will not pick his calls”, she said.

Nigeria News Agency reports that ICPC had dragged Pinnacle to court regarding payment on Digital Switch Over operation.

Pinnacle communications gained prominence when in 2014, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) which was elected to guide the country’s digitalisation process advertised the opening for a private signal distributor.

Following the advertisement, 16 companies bided and pinnacle communications, a fully indigenous company won.

The company thereafter paid the sum of 618 million mandatory license fees to the federal government.

When the license was eventually issued, the company discovered that some vital provisions in the initial license template had been removed from the final document issued after the stipulated fee had been paid.

The management approached the court for redress which stalled the process of the digital switch over until the present government came on board.

In 2016, the NBC, determined to return the country to the path of progress on the global initiative, invited Pinnacle communications for talks to end the debacle.

After series of meeting, agreement was reached between the company and the government.

The company also beat the three month deadline given to it to set up its operation in Abuja, in order to qualify for any payment.

NAN further recalls that the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo had inaugurated the Abuja Digital Switch Over Station in 2016 which was followed by the Kaduna station commissioned by Kaduna State Governor.

After what appeared to be a satisfactory work, the sum of N2.5 billion was paid to the company after the Abuja station was successfully delivered.

The white paper which is the guiding document for the DSO gives the power of approval to the Minister of Information.

The company therefore expressed shock when the ICPC announced the trial of the D-G of NBC and two other principal staff of Pinnacle communications over same payment.

The trio were preferred a 12-count charge bordering on abuse of office, money laundering and misleading a public officer with the intent to defraud the federal government.

According to the anti-graft body, the alleged offences are in contravention of Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

The Presidency had in 2016, released N10 billion to the Ministry of Information and Culture for the DSO programme and a White Paper was issued directing how the process should be executed.

Based on the guidelines provided by the White Paper, two companies were nominated to handle the process, one of which was ITS, an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

To this end, the sum of N1.7 billion was released to it as seed grant for the commencement of the switch-over.

It was, however, alleged that Director General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr Modibbo Kawu fraudulently recommended Pinnacle Communications Limited, a private company, to the Minister of Information and Culture, for the release of N2.5 billion against the guidelines contained in the White Paper”.

However, findings have shown that while Pinnacles won the bid in 2014, Kawu came into office in 2016.

The ICPC claimed that the Minister of Information was misled in the transaction, the allegation is pending before the court..

The company said it had since joined in the action in response to the pleadings made in court by the commission, adding that the current threat was contemptuous.

Edited by: Sadiya Hamza

 

 

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Court fixes Oct. 8 for Pinnacle’s N1bn Suit against ICPC, Zenith bank

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Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has fixed Oct. 8 for hearing in a suit instituted by Pinnacle Communications Ltd. against the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and Zenith Bank Plc.

The matter earlier slated for Thursday, could not hold due to the absence of the judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo; though, no reason was given by the court’s registrar on the judge’s absence.

The company had in July 2018, dragged ICPC to court for unlawfully withholding its money domicile in Zenith bank without a valid court order.

Specifically, the company is seeking “A declaration that the act of the first defendant in ordering the third defendant to place a “post-no-debit” restrictions on the plaintiff’’s account.

This, the company said, without any court order and or any valid court order is ultra vires, unlawful, injurious, unconstitutional and a breach of the plaintiff’s right to its movable property.

The plaintiff is also seeking, “A declaration that the act of the 2nd defendant in placing a “post-no-debit” restrictions on the plaintiffs account number 1012875804 with the 3rd defendant without any court order is unlawful.

“The company wants, “A declaration that failure of 3rd defendant to right the wrongful act of first defendant in ordering a “post no debit” restrictions on plaintiff’s account with the 2nd defendant without a valid court order is unlawful.

“Further more, the plaintiff is seeking “An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from placing any restrictions on plaintiff’s account with the 2nd defendant without a valid and competent court order.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st defendant from placing any form of restrictions on the plaintiff’s account with the 2nd defendant or any other bank or financial institution.

“In which the plaintiff maintains any account and or dealings, without a court order and or valid and competent court order.

“An order for the payment of the N1 billion as general, exemplary and punitive damages against the defendant for their unlawful and illegal act.

“At the last adjourned date of May 21, the court had directed all parties in the suit to file and exchange processes to enable the court hear all pending applications on June 27.”

News Agency of Nigeria , reports that Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, of the Federal High Court Abuja, had on Dec. 14, 2018, ordered the ICPC, to unfreeze the account of the company domicile with Zenith bank.

Justice Dimgba held that the action of ICPC was unlawful, illegal and therefore, null and void.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Judiciary

Court reschedules Pinnacle’s N1bn suit against ICPC, Zenith bank to Oct. 8

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Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has rescheduled a suit instituted by Pinnacle Communications Ltd against Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and Zenith Bank Plc to Oct. 8.

No reason was given by the court’s Registrar on the judge’s absence.

The company had in July 2018 dragged ICPC to court for unlawfully withholding its money domicile in Zenith bank without a valid court order.

Specifically, the company is seeking: “A declaration that the act of the 1st defendant in ordering the 3rd defendant to place a `post-no-debit’ restrictions on the plaintiff’s account with the 3rd defendant.’’

This, the company said, without any court order and or any valid court order is ultra vires, unlawful, injurious, unconstitutional and a breach of the plaintiff’s right to its movable property.

The plaintiff is also seeking “a declaration that the act of the 2nd defendant in placing a post-no-debit restrictions on the plaintiff’s account number 1012875804 with the 3rd defendant without any court order is unlawful.

“The company wants a declaration that failure of 3rd defendant to right the wrongful act of first defendant in ordering a post no debit restrictions on plaintiff’s account with the 2nd defendant without a valid court order is unlawful.

“Furthermore, the plaintiff is seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from placing any restrictions on plaintiff’s account with the 2nd defendant without a valid and competent court order.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st defendant from placing any form of restrictions on the plaintiff’s account with the 2nd defendant or any other bank or financial institution in which the plaintiff maintains any account and or dealings, without a court order and or valid and competent court order.

“An order for the payment of the N1 billion as general, exemplary and punitive damages against the defendants for their unlawful and illegal act.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that at the last adjourned date of May 21, the court had directed all parties in the suit to file and exchange processes to enable the court hear all pending applications on June 27.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, of the Federal High Court Abuja, had on Dec. 14, 2018, ordered the ICPC, to unfreeze the account of the company domicile with Zenith bank.

Justice Dimgba held that the action of ICPC was unlawful, illegal and therefore, null and void.

Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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Judiciary

Information Minister approved payment of N2.5bn to Pinnacle for digital switchover-witness

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Mrs Alheri Saidu, a witness in the on-going trial of Director -General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibbo,says the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, approved payment of N2.5billion to Pinnacle Communications Ltd.

Saidu, a witness of the prosecuting agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) revealed this at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The witness, a retired legal adviser to NBC, told the court that Mohammed made the approval in accordance with the provisions of the 2012 White Paper on Implementation of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project.

She was led in evidence by prosecuting counsel, Mr Henry Emore.

The court admitted the White Paper in evidence and marked it as exhibit two.

She said that a total of N10 billion was approved for the DSO project by the Federal Government from which another company CCNL was also paid based on the minister’s approval.

The witness further told the court that when she was the acting Director -General of NBC, she did approve the payment to CCNL without a board.

She added that in 2014, another limited liability company set up by the NTA, ITS Limited was paid N1.7 billion by the NBC for the DSO as recommended by the 2012 White Paper.

While being cross examined by A. V Etuwewe, counsel to Pinnacle Communications, the witness denied a statement credited to her in the minutes of an emergency management meeting of NBC held on May 31, 2017.

The statement was in respect of the request for payment by Pinnacle.

The statement was that “All over the world where the DSO was implemented, government paid for services rendered to it”.

Saidu said when she saw the statement, she did not formally write to disown that portion of the minutes credited to her.

She also disclosed that the Abuja DSO was officially launched with equipment and facilities of Pinnacle on the Mpape Hill, Abuja, on Dec. 22, 2016, by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammad Buhari.

She added that the Information Minister, herself and other stakeholders were present during the DSO launch.

An earlier witness, Mr Olawale  Oshisanwo,  a deputy- director of Finance at NBC told the court that he processed the payment of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communications Ltd.

He said this was after all the necessary documentations were attached and the audit department also passed it for payment.

Oshisanwo said although he raised some observations with the director-general, he admitted not putting such observations in writing.

Modibbo is standing trial with three other defendants; Lucky Omoluwa, Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Ltd (PCL) and the Chief Operating Officer Dipo Onifade as well as PCL.

The trio including PCL are facing trial over allegations of fraud in the digital switch over project of the Federal Government.

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Science & Technology

N2.5bn payment to Pinnacle justified-NBC

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Malam Is’haq Kawu Modibbo, Director-General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) says the N2.5 billion paid to Pinnacle communications Ltd, is justifiable.

Modibbo stated this in Abuja on Thursday while reacting to a query by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over the payment.

Pinnacle Ltd. is the second licensed signal distributor for digital switchover in Nigeria.

Modibbo said the White Paper on Digital Switchover (DSO) stipulated that NBC should provide a platform for the second signal distributor because the first signal distributor had facilities all over the country.

“The white paper says the second signal distributor is coming in with a disadvantage, so the NBC should provide a level playing field to ensure that a signal distributor carryout the process successfully.

“This is the context in which the payment was made and we did not only pay just a signal distributor.

NBC paid N2.5 billion to pinnacle communication for facilitating digitisation in Abuja, Kaduna and other parts of the country as the work progressed.

NBC paid the first national signal distributor, Integrated-Television-Services (ITS) N1.7 billion and as at the time the money was paid, the exchange rate of naira to a dollar was about N167.

“When we paid Pinnacle in 2017, the dollar exchange for naira was N380.

“So if you look at N2.5 billion and N1.7 billion in terms of the amount of money paid, the exchange rate had affected the payment so it was not as if we just threw money at them. All those things were measured,” he said.

He said that when the Federal Government released N10 billion to NBC, it came with a directive that the money should be used for the digital switchover process and supervised by the Minister of Information and Culture.

According to him, every payment that NBC made in the context of the digital switchover got approval from the Minister.

“We paid the signal distributors, Set Top Box manufacturers, content aggregators, we have partly paid the set light provider and we partly paid the people who are doing the call centre.

“To activate the box, you have to make certain calls to the centre and we have call agents who work for NBC on 24 hour basis and we pay them through the company,” he said.

Modibbo also said that NBC spent money to train its staff and some members of the National Assembly on the digital switchover as well as other stakeholders.

Modibbo explained that Pinnacle got the license after an open bidding process that was broadcast on television, two years before he came to the NBC.

He said the company has contributed immensely to the success of digitisation more than any other signal distributor in the country.

“Pinnacle has been the single largest contributor because they paid a license fee of N680 million to the NBC,” he added.

Edited by: Chioma Ugboma/Ismail Abdulaziz

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Science & Technology

Digital switch-over: Pinnacle absolves self of fraud allegation

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Pinnacle Communications Limited on Sunday absolved the firm of alleged complicity and misapplication of money meant for the implementation of the digital switch-over (DSO) project.

Pinnacle Communications Limited is the private licensed signal distributor for the Federal Government’s approved implementation of the Transition from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Broadcasting in Nigeria.

Mr Dipo Onifade, the Chief Operating Officer, Pinnacle Communications, in a statement dismissed as untrue the media reports linking it with the allegation that N2.5 billion seed grant released to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for the project had been misapplied.

Onifade said that the firm has always been transparent in all its dealings with the NBC and it has discharged its obligations on the digital switch-over project in compliance with the terms and conditions of the contract.

“To this extent therefore, all transactions between NBC and Pinnacle Communications have always been transparent and within the official approved operational guidelines and regulations as processed and executed by the NBC and in compliance with the  terms and conditions of Pinnacle Communications.

“It became necessary to make the clarifications in view of the deliberate omission and distortion in the media reports that were based on the statement purportedly issued by ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa.

“The media reports said that the Commission was investigating NBC, its Director General, Dr Ishaq Moddibbo Kawu, and other top management staff of the agency over their alleged involvements in the misapplication of the of N2.5 billion seed grant, ” he said.

Onifade said their company was the only private licensed signal distributor for the DSO initiative in accordance with the 2012 Government White Paper under section 11.2 (a) which approved that “more than one signal distributor be licensed in addition to NTA, the public licensed signal distributor.

He added that the firm was awarded the licence in 2014 having emerged the successful bidder out of nine companies that participated in the rigorous public tender and in full compliance with due process requirements.

According to Onifade, the company had been a major facilitator of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) implementation process in Nigeria, notably as the broadcast signal distributor for the National Launch of the DSO in Abuja in 2016 at its state-of-the-art Broadcast Centre on Mpape Hill.

He said that the launch was performed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

“The Company was also responsible for the Kaduna Digital Broadcast Signal Distribution Centre commissioned in 2017 by the Kaduna State Governor, His Excellency, Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai, Onifade added.

Onifade dismissed the alleged statements attributed to the ICPC spokesperson that the company was “fraudulently recommended to the Minister of Information and Culture for the release of N2.5 billion against the guidelines contained in the White Paper” and further reference to Pinnacle Communications as “an unqualified company.

“The 2014 licensing of Pinnacle Communications in the DSO predates the appointment of the current director- general of NBC in 2016, ” he said.

Onifade noted that DTT Broadcast Engineering is a field in which it has earned recognition and patronage for more than two decades of expertise and dependability of world class service and installations across Nigeria.

He also dismissed the confusion created by the ICPC spokesperson saying, “Neither the DSO nor Pinnacle Communications Limited has anything to do with “migration of telephone lines from analogue to digital platforms” as the ICPC spokesperson is alleged to have stated.

“Pinnacle Communications further maintains that the facts and clarifications provided above sufficiently define the context and extent of its involvement in the implementation of the DSO program in Nigeria and the nature of its working relationship with NBC .

“We wish to clearly emphasise that Pinnacle Communications Limited has not and can not as a licencee of NBC trespass into the statutory functions of the NBC or the Federal Ministry of Information on the implementation of the DSO program.

“Having made all the necessary statements in response to the ICPC’s investigations and taking cognisance of the pendency of Suit No./779/2018 that Pinnacle Communications instituted in July 2018 in the Federal High Court, Abuja on a related matter against ICPC and two others.

” Pinnacle Communications considers it  prejudicial and unfair for the ICPC spokesperson to make as alleged random references to disjointed portions of comprehensive submissions to its investigators, clearly skewed to portray the company as complicit in the alleged or any “misapplication” of funds by the NBC, over which the management have no responsibility, ” he said.

He said that the company challenges the ICPC spokesperson, if the alleged press release was indeed made by her, to publish the full statements made to the ICPC by Pinnacle officials.

“Moreover, if truly made, the ICPC statement went beyond mere announcement of on-going investigations into the realm of unsubstantiated incriminations in the fashion of trial-by-media that invariably paints a premature and amateur picture of guilt, prior to judicial determination.

We assure the NBC, stakeholders in the DSO, its staff, international and local business associates and numerous clients that we remain committed to meeting all their obligations notwithstanding the statement by the ICPC spokesperson, ” Onifade said.

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