Alleged N2.5bn Fraud: What Modibbo did when contacted over suspension?

By Mumini AbdulKareem

It was a drama of sort last night between the suspended Director-General of the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Ishaq Modibbo Kawu and this reporter in an attempt to get his official reaction to the development.

Apparently expectant that National Pilot would reach out to him over his suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari, the embattled NBC boss reportedly barred the line of this reporter with which they have spoken and exchanged correspondences several times in the past.

It all began on Saturday when frantic efforts to reach him for response met brick wall as his telephone line was continuously engaged several times that he was contacted throughout the day. But during the night, it was however switched off

But when the same trend continued on Sunday, it birthed room for suspicion which prompted the decision to try to contact him for response with the use of another telephone line.

Multiple calls and text message for response with the new telephone line used to contact him last night were neither answered not replied.

The President’s surprise move to finally suspend the embattled broadcasting commission boss was announced last week following several months of his investigation for alleged corruption by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

The news of his suspension went viral in many social media platforms in the state with many condemning him for bringing shame to the state.

The anti-graft agency had urged the federal government to suspend Kawu and 32 other public officers/civil servants undergoing corruption trial at the time.

According to report on the development by online news medium Premium Times, a source at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) confirmed that Kawu was given the letter of suspension Thursday, pending the conclusion of investigations into the allegations against him.

The paper quoted another source at the NBC which confirmed that the present Director, Broadcast Monitoring, Armstrong Idachaba, has since been handed a letter to proceed as the acting DG of NBC. Also, sources at the ICPC confirmed that they have been told that Kawu has been suspended until the conclusion of his trial. He may be reinstated if he is cleared of the allegation.

Both spokespersons for the NBC, Antia Ekanem and his SGF counterpart, Willie Bassey, said they were not aware of such suspension.

‘In the storm’s eye’

ICPC said it is prosecuting Kawu for “using (his) position to confer corruption advantage.”

The Commission on May 2 arraigned Kawu and two others, Dipo Onifade and Lucky Omoluwa, over alleged N2.5 billion fraud.

The trio, who are being prosecuted on 12-count charges, allegedly conspired with each other to use the position of Kawu to confer a corrupt advantage on Omoluwa, his friend and associate.

Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, was also interrogated by the ICPC over the matter.

Kawu allegedly asked the Minister to approve payment of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communications Ltd owned by Omoluwa as “Seed Grant” under the Digital Switch-Over Programme of the federal government.

The Minister had reportedly told anti-graft investigators that he approved the payment based on expert advice he received from the NBC.

The anti-graft agency charged Kawu for allegedly ‘deceiving’ Mohammed to sign the deal. Mohammed was listed as a witness in the trial of Kawu but the minister failed to appear in court.

Also, attempt to get the response of the Minister last night on the issue was not successful as he did not pick calls. Response to a text message was still been awaited before this paper went to bed.

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