The Director General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibo-Kawu, was Thursday arraigned before a Federal High Court, Abuja, over alleged N2.5bn fraud.
Arraigned along with him are Managing Director of Pinnacle Communications, Dipo Onifade, Founder and Chairman Board of Directors of Pinnacle, Lucky Omoluwa and Pinnacle Communications Ltd.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Matters Commission (ICPC), filed charges against tbem over alleged misappropriating of N2.5bn, for the nationwide rollout of the digital transmission of home television signals.
The defendants are facing a 12-count charge bordering on abuse of office, money laundering and misleading a public officer with the intent to defraud the Federal Government, in contravention of Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
However, when the charges were to them , Thursday, they pleaded not guilty.
Consequently, their counsel moved bail application.
According to Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, the defendants are deemed innocent untill found guilty. She held that since the crime they are charged with is bailable, she is left with no option than to grant them bail.
In granting them bail, Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo ordered them to deposit a N100m bail bond and with two suretes each in like sum.
“They are granted bail in sum of N100m each, with two sureties each in like sum. The sureties will depose to affidavit, and must be property owners in the FCT”, the court held.
The sureties, according to the court, “must be in level 17 and above in the service of Nigeria, who reside within FCT.”
The court also said the sureties should show evidence of payment of tax for three years.
The defendants are also to produce two passport photographs, they are to deposit their international passports with the Deputy Registrar, Litigation of the the Federal High Court, Abuja and must make know to the court anytime they are travelling out of the country.
The court gave them a 10-day window to meet with the bail conditions, and failure to meet with the terms, they will be remanded in prison custody until at that time they are able to meet the conditions.
The court adjourned till April 3 for commencement of trial.
Recall, the presidency had in 2016, released N10bn to the Ministry of Information and Culture for the DSO programme and a White Paper was issued directing how the process should be executed.
Based on the guidelines provided by the White Paper, two companies were nominated to handle the process, one of which was ITS, an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). N1.7bn was released to it as seed grant for the commencement of the switch-over.
It was alleged that Modibo-Kawu fraudulently recommended Pinnacle Communications Limited, a private company, to the Minister of Information and Culture, for the release of N2.5bn against the guidelines contained in the White Paper.
As a result, the ICPC filed charges against him and his accomplices.