N2.5bn DSO Project: Lai Mohammed fails to show up in court

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Thursday, June 27,2019

Former Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, failed to show up earlier than Justice Folashade Giwa of the Federal High Court Abuja, to explain his function in the alleged approval of N2.5billion to Pinnacle Communications Ltd.

The cash was once for the motive of the Federal Government Digital Switch Over (DSO) project.

The sitting used to be in continuation of the trial of the Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibbo, Pinnacle Communications Ltd, and two others.

Mohammed used to be listed through the ICPC prosecution counsel, Henry Emore as extra witness to give testimony on the approval of charge of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle.

However, after calling two witnesses, the prosecution suggestions informed the court docket that the instant previous Information Minister was not in court.

Umore said the former minister had travelled out of the usa but used to be expected returned in the usa on or earlier than July 31.

In addition, the court used to be informed that Mohammed made his assertion before the ICPC.

The prosecution tips also knowledgeable the court that the different witness he wished to call, was once nonetheless in Saudi Arabia.

However, Alex Izinyon, SAN, information to Onifade Oladipupo, (2nd defendant), and Lucky Omoluwa (3rd defendant), advised the court that he had already filed an application to oppose the listing of additional witness filed via the prosecution counsel.

Izinyon stated the defence group had already joined issues with the prosecution on the failure of ICPC to name Mohammed who permitted the payment of N2.5billion to Pinnacle and joined him as a defendant in the case.

A witness referred to as with the aid of the ICPC alleged that the former minister refused to make announcement to the ICPC, claiming that he wanted to get clearance from the Secretary to Government of the Federation.

Earlier, upon cross-examination by way of Izinyon, a prosecution witness Olugbemi Abraham, instructed the court docket that “during investigation, we could not interview Mohammed due to the fact he stated he wanted clearance from the Secretary to Government of the Federation.”

Abraham, however,revealed that they later took statement from Mohammed during the pendency of the case.

He admitted that, “Really, we did now not trouble to get in touch with the SGF to enable him allow the former Information Minister to make statement.”

Abraham also admitted that NBC, based totally on the provision of the White Paper that government need to supply condition for a stage playing area for signal distributors, used to be in position to determine the stage playing field.

“Under further pass examination by way of Amah Etuwewe, counsel to the fourth defendant (Pinnacle Communications), the witness said upon investigation, they did now not price the facility put in location via Pinnacle at the Abuja DSO site.

“Further more, the witness admitted that the N2.5 billion used to be launched under the supervision of the former Information Minister.

“To the first-rate of my knowledge, the Presidency that launched the N10billion to the NBC for the motive of DSO has now not complained of how the fund was used.

“I am now not conscious if the former Minister had withdrawn his approval.”

Meanwhile, Justice Giwa, has adjourned the case till July 1, for ruling on a motion by using the 2nd and 3rd defendants in search of the launch of their global passports to enable them tour overseas for official functions.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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