By Olanrewaju Adesanya
The Coalition of Civil Society Organisation (CCSO) has called for the investigation of the Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed, over his authorization of NBC’s payment to Pinnacles Communications limited for the Digital Switchover Project,while urging anti-graft agencies to always do thorough investigation before proceeding to court on every matter, so as not to clog the wheel of development.
The group made this assertion at a press conference held at the Liberation Center 696 Ijaiye,Lagos to address what is hindering the take off of Digital Switch Over (DSO) implementation in Nigeria,claims of license racketeering and N2.5bn payment allegedly made by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to the Pinnacles Communications Limited.
The CCSO, a group consisting of 25 pro Democracy Human Rights Organizations,which randomly signed the press statement, said that having independently investigated the allegations earlier stated, it discovered that the claims are spurious and baseless.
According to the Spokesperson for the affiliated groups,Comrade Alex Omotehinse, who doubles as the Lagos State branch chairman of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR),the CCSO’s investigation into the matter reveals that the indictment of the current Director of NBC, Mr I’shaq Modibbo Kawu over license racketeering was ill intentioned.
“The application for licenses by the company Word,Sound and Vision Multimedia Limited was submitted to NBC on the 26th of September,2008 and Ishaq Kawu Modibbo was not yet a Director as at the time of approval and he does not own any interest in the company till date.
“President Mohammadu Buhari on the 24th of September 2018 approved 147radio license as stipulated in NBC act and this is contrary to the misinformation going round that Director General of the NBC approved those licenses to himself and others.
” What the NBC does is to compile the list of the applicants and submit to the President for approval.
The CCSO noted further that, “the alleging group are trying hard to further build on their failed Pinnacles Communications Limited ICPC N2.5bn litigation where the prosecution star witness,Charles Adams confessed in an open court that there was no petition against the defendants and that NBC did not violate any provision of the Federal Government white paper on the implementation of the DSO.
” He also confessed that they did not find any sum of money traceable from the accounts of the company to the account of the NBC’s DG,his wife and any of his closed relations.
“Our further findings so far shows that Nigeria has missed three consecutive deadlines for Digital Transition due to the unnecessary controversies created by mischievous elements in other to fulfil their selfish agenda at the expense of national interest,” The CCSO affirmed.
Analysing the scenario further,the group established that in 2014, Pinnacles Communications Limited won an open bid amongst 11 companies bidding for appointment as the second National Broadcast Signal Distributor (BSD) for Nigeria Digital Switchover.
On the side of the public broadcast,NTA got the bid and consequently led to the licensing of the Integrated Television Station (ITS) but Pinnacles Communications limited later took the Federal Government/NBC to court over discrepancies cited in the promised license as opposed to the Actual license issued.
The litigation lasted two years until the emergence of Kawu as DG NBC in May 2016, who due to his competence and capability on the job having consulted with Pinnacles Communications limited led to out of court settlement and birthed a new beginning to the digital switchover project.
CCSO also noted that due to Kawu’s style in NBC the DSO has been launched in five locations between May 2016 and February 2018.
These translates to the creation of critical jobs in technology, Establishment of STB productions facilities in Calabar and Ilesha,activation of 650,000 boxes for Nigerian households,one million STB boxes negotiated with Korean Company under a new production plan in Nigeria and the production components will be delivered in Nigeria by July 2019.
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