N2.5bn NBC fraud: Lai Mohammed’s absence stalls trial

The absence of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed,  from  court on Wednesday stalled the trial of the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission Ishaq Kawu, over alleged misuse of office and misappropriation of N2.5bn Federal Government fund for Digital Switch-Over programme.

Kawu is being prosecuted  by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.

A statement  by  spokeswoman for the ICPC, Rasheedat Okoduwa, stated that the minister was scheduled to make an appearance before  the  Federal High Court  in Abuja as a prosecution witness.

The statement added that he was expected to explain his role in the alleged misapplication of the money.

The statement said, “The ICPC had filed  12 counts  before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa against Kawu; Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Lucky Omoluwa; and the Chief Operating Officer of the company, Dipo Onifade, saying the NBC DG  misled the minister into approving government funds  for  a private company.

“Mohammed had admitted in a statement to the commission that he was misled by Kawu, as opined in court by a witness from the  ICPC, Osanato Olugbemi. However, at the resumed hearing, counsel for  the commission, Henry Emore, informed the court that the minister was unavoidably absent because of an urgent national assignment.”

The anti-corruption body  said before asking for a new date to bring the minister, Emore prayed the court to subpoena a second witness, a Bureau de Change operator, Sabo Shuaibu, who had repeatedly failed to attend court despite being invited on numerous occasions.

“Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa granted the subpoena and advised the prosecution counsel to be mindful of the five adjournments allowed by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, having used up three already. The trial judge also ordered the release of Kawu’s  passport, to enable him to attend  the World Radiocommunication Conference taking place in Egypt,” said the statement.
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