N2.5 billion DSO Fraud: Pinnacle Communications Accuses ICPC of Distortion of Facts

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By John Shiklam in Kaduna

Pinnacle Communications, one of the companies involved in the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project of the federal government, has reacted to a recent statement by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on investigations into alleged N2.5 billion fraud.

The ICPC had in a statement last Thursday mentioned the company among those quizzed in connection with the alleged fraud.

But the Kaduna Broadcast Centre of Pinnacle Communications in a statement issued yesterday said  the ICPC statement did not provide the correct account of the involvement of the company in the issues raised.

The statement which was signed by the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Dipo Onifade, said details of the issues were deliberately omitted and distorted by the ICPC in its statement.

Onifade said the management of the company was constrained to clarify the issues to straighten the records following the flurry of news reports in the media last Thursday quoting a statement by the ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa.

The statement said: “In view of the references made to Pinnacle Communications Limited in connection with the investigation and the necessity of providing the correct account of the involvement of company in the issues raised, which were deliberately omitted  and/or distorted in the ICPC spokesperson’s alleged statement as widely reported in the media, we hereby state as follows: ‘Pinnacle Communications Limited is the only private licenced signal distributor for the federal government approved implementation of the Transition from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting in Nigeria in accordance with the 2012 government White Paper section 11.2 (a) which approved that ‘more than one signal distributor be licenced in addition to NTA-the public licenced signal distributor. Another signal distributor should be licensed immediately.

‘In the year 2014, Pinnacle Communications Limited emerged successful bidder out of nine companies after a rigorous public tender and full compliance with due process’.

Onifade said further that the company was licenced following payment of the stipulated licence fees to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and not Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation as stated in the  ICPC statement.

“Since then, Pinnacle Communications Limited has been a major facilitator of the DSO implementation process in Nigeria, notably as the broadcast signal distributor for the national launch of the DSO in Abuja in 2016 at its Broadcast Centre on Mpape Hill, performed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo,” the statement explained.

The statement further explained that “the company was also responsible for the Kaduna Digital Broadcast Signal Distribution Centre inaugurated in 2017 by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai.

“This factual background to the involvement of Pinnacle Communications Limited in the DSO project in Nigeria is contrary to 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.”

According to Onifade, “The  2014 licencing of Pinnacle Communications in the DSO predates the appointment of the current DG of NBC in 2016,” stressing that the DSO is all about the transition from analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

The statement maintained that neither the DSO nor the company had anything to do with ‘migration of telephone lines from analogue to digital platforms’ as the ICPC alleged.