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VP Osinbajo Distances Self As N10b Switchover Fund Crisis Gets Messier   * The Abba Kyari Connection.

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has exonerated himself from the raging crisis over  mismanagement of a N2.5billion from the N10b grant for the digital switchover program of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) which has now become an assignment for the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission ( ICPC).

In what could be described as a fresh insight into the  raging debacle, it has been discovered the controversial fund release was done without the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari .

More curious is another revelation that the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has no hand in the approval of the release of the digital switchover money.

According to a  Saturday Sun report monitored by Thepage, it was gathered that funds in that threshold can only be approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC or the President-in-Council.
However,  at the time the N10 billion was approved in 2016 and  N2.5 billion was paid out of the total sum  to Pinnacle Communications Limited in May/June 2017, President Buhari was said to be on medical vacation in the United Kingdom, during which his deputy, Prof Osinbajo acted as Acting President.
It was also gathered that the sum of N10 billion was released to NBC in 2016, through the Ministry of Information and Culture for the digital switchover programme, which entails migration of telephone lines from analogue to digital platforms and a white paper was issued directing that the process be specifically handled by government-affiliated companies.
The anti-graft agency has however said that over N2.5 billion had been squandered by the leadership of NBC as there was nothing to show for the amount claimed to have been spent by the management. This prompted ICPC to summon the NBC Director General, Dr. Ishaq Moddibbo Kawu, and other top management staff for questioning over their alleged involvements in the misapplication of the fund.
ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, who gave the details in a recent statement said the commission studied the guidelines provided by the white paper and discovered that two companies were nominated to handle the process, one of which was ITS, an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) which got N1.7 billion for the commencement of the switchover. “The N2.5 billion was paid into the Zenith Bank account of Pinnacle Communications Limited in May/June 2017 for the programme,” she alleged.
The spokesperson stated that through investigation, it was also discovered that several suspicious transfers of large sums of funds from the account of the company into the bank accounts of several organisations and individuals took place. “It was found out that N100 million of the fund was paid into the personal bank account of Mr. Onifade in Zenith Bank, which he claimed was for legal services that he had rendered to the same Pinnacle Communications where he is employed.
“Also, investigation revealed that another N450 million was transferred into the account of Sabdat Investment Limited, a Bureau de Change, which then converted the money into dollars and handed it over to the Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Mr. Lucky Omoluwa, in his Kaduna residence,” she said and added that investigation was still ongoing. The NBC DG, Is’haq Kawu Modibbo, however mentioned that the N2.5 billion paid to Pinnacle Communications Ltd, is justifiable.
Mr Modibbo stated this while reacting to a query by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over the payment.
“NBC paid N2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communications for facilitating digitisation in Abuja, Kaduna and other parts of the country as the work progressed. NBC paid the first national signal distributor, Integrated-Television-Services (ITS) N1.7 billion and as at the time the money was paid, the exchange rate of naira to a dollar was about N167.
“When we paid Pinnacle in 2017, the dollar exchange for naira was N380.
“So if you look at N2.5 billion and N1.7 billion in terms of the amount of money paid, the exchange rate had affected the payment so it was not as if we just threw money at them. All those things were measured,” he said.
He said that when the federal government released N10 billion to NBC, it came with a directive that the money should be used for the digital switchover process and supervised by the Minister of Information and Culture. According to him, every payment that NBC made in the context of the digital switchover got approval from the minister.
Beyond these explanations, security agents are also now interested in the process of approving the release of the huge fund outside of FEC and in the absence of the President.
In his own reaction when contacted, the Vice President’s  spokesman Laolu Akande distanced his principal from the controversy.

“I think it’s best to contact the Information Ministry. The Ministry is the one that has direct oversight on the NBC”, Akande stated in one of his responses to  enquires regarding the issue.
According to the report, efforts to get the Minister of Information to  speak on the issue failed as his telephone line did not connect till the time of going to press Friday night.
A top security chief involved in the probe however hinted that “indications point to the fact that the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari is in a position to confirm who gave the approval for the expenditure if he is not the one but such huge sum no doubt is beyond his approval limit because only FEC or the President-in-Council can give such approval.”

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Inclusive Foundation Mourns Veteran Actress, Rachael Oniga

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Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation, a non-governmental organisation has expressed its heartfelt sympathy to family, friends and the entire movie industry over the loss of the veteran actress, Rachael Oniga who died at age 64.

 

 

The CEO of the foundation, Chief (Mrs.) Pat Eleto, in a condolence visit to the family, on Saturday, July 31st, said the news came as a rude shock to many, but she believes that the late actress has created a great impact with her career, and her legacy should never be forgotten.

 

 

In her statement, Chief (Mrs.)Eleto said:

“It is with a heavy heart that I grief with the family of a sister, friend and adviser of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.

 

 

“Mrs. Oniga, is one of our great ambassadors, and we were actually working on a project that is meant for the later part of this year when the sad news of her demise came.

 

 

“Death is inevitable, we pray for the repose of her soul, and may God comfort all the people she left behind. We also hope and pray that all her good legacies, be sustained because, she was indeed a pillar of support to our foundation, and also one of veterans that contributed immensely to the growth of Nollywood,” the statement reads.

 

 

A native of Delta State, Oniga was one of the ambassadors of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.

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Alaafin Shuns Ooni-Backed Group Over Alleged Anti-Buhari Posture

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ALAAFIN

The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, on Friday, at the last minute, allegedly cancelled an appointment he gave to a Yoruba group, Ooni’s Caucus, on the alleged complaint that members of the group are “notorious critics” of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

 

 

The Ooni’s Caucus, which was inaugurated at the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on July 20, 2021, is made of many influential Yoruba persons and is being coordinated by a former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, Mr Akin Osuntokun.

 

 

PUNCH learnt that Osuntokun led about 14 members of the group to Alaafin’s palace for the alleged 11am appointment on Friday, but after waiting for about two and a half hours, the influential monarch sent words to them that he would not be seeing them.

 

 

According to a source, who spoke to  PUNCH on condition of anonymity, some of the group’s members who went to Alaafin’s palace with Osuntokun were a monarch, the Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Oba Francis Alao; a former presidential spokesman, Dr Doyin Okupe; a former commissioner in Osun State, Muyiwa Ige;  a former Minister of Defence, Mrs Dupe Adelaja; a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Taiwo Lakanu,  Oye Oyewumi, Sola Lawal, among others.

 

 

A former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, is also said to be a member of Ooni’s Caucus, but he was not on the delegation to Alaafin’s palace on Friday.

 

 

The source, who is a member of the group, claimed that the group had through the Olugbon secured an appointment with Alaafin since Monday, and the same appointment was confirmed on Thursday, only for them to get to the palace and the Alaafin refused to see them on the claim that they were anti-Buhari and were also loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

 

 

The source explained that the main purpose of the meeting was for the newly-inaugurated group to get Alaafin’s blessings and to possibly discuss the issue of the embattled Yoruba Nation agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, who is currently being held and tried in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

 

 

The source said, “The Olugbon, a member of the caucus, was the one who booked the appointment, but he said the Alaafin said he didn’t want to see us because we’re notorious critics of the Buhari government.

 

 

“He (Alaafin) confirmed the appointment yesterday (Thursday). But when we got there today, he kept us waiting; after a while, he asked to see the Olugbon. He (Alaafin) didn’t come to see us; we were told he said he wouldn’t see us because we are notorious critics of Buhari’s government and that some of us are close to Obasanjo, who is also critical of the government.

 

 

“We were made to wait for about two and a half hours; he gave us an appointment for 11am; we got there at 11am and at about 1.30pm, that was when it was obvious to us that he wasn’t coming (to see us). But he initially asked to see the Olugbon, who went to see him for about an hour. When the Olugbon eventually came back, he said Alaafin would not see us, saying we are a group that is critical of the Buhari government and some of us are loyalists of Obasanjo.”

 

On whether the group’s mission to Alaafin’s palace was to discuss Sunday Igboho’s matter, the source said, “Of course, the issue (of Igboho) would come up but that was not the purpose of the visit. The issue of Igboho concerns all the Yoruba people but that was not our reason for going to him.”

 

 

On whether the group would try and book another appointment, the source said, “I don’t know; we were all surprised that a Yoruba oba can refuse to see his children on account of not wanting to be on the bad side of Buhari’s government. I would have thought that an oba is supposed to take everybody as his children, whether they are supporters of Buhari the All progressives Congress or the Peoples Democratic Party or whatever party.”

 

 

But when contacted by PUNCH, the Media Director to the Alaafin, Bode Durojaye, said the reason his principal did not see the group was because they did not have any prior appointment with him.

 

 

Durojaye said the Alaafin would be willing to entertain the group if they booked an appointment.

 

 

 

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NMA Reacts As Bandits Break Into, Pick Nurse At Zamfara General Hospital

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Bandits

Suspected bandits invaded General Hospital, Dansadau, Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State on Friday, resulting in the abduction of a nurse and caregiver.

 

 

Residents said that immediately the men stormed the medical facility, the armed men headed to the outpatient ward in search of a doctor or nurse.

 

 

“When they couldn’t find anybody there, they started going from one ward to another. A nurse and a caregiver were abducted. They then moved to staff quarters looking for doctors and nurses but could not find any.”

 

 

“The armed criminals had earlier attempted to attack Maigoge, a community located six kilometres north of Dansadau town.

 

 

“But when they laid siege to the community, the vigilantes otherwise known as Yan Sakai firmly defended the village. The vigilante killed some of the bandits and injured several others.

 

 

“They then invaded the hospital to kidnap nurse and doctors that will treat their injured brothers in the forest.”

 

 

 

Maigoge is one of the few communities in Dansadau Emirate known to be firmly defending themselves against bandits.

 

 

“The staff of the facility are not carrying out night duties now. They only attend to patients at day time. They then move inside the town to spend night usually at undisclosed locations,” he added.

 

 

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in Zamfara state, Dr Mannir Bature, who confirmed the attack said the association is worried by the unfortunate incident.

 

 

He said they would hold an emergency state officers council meeting on Saturday.

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