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Alleged N2.5b fraud: Firm protests ICPC’s attempt to arrest chairman


Jan. 22, 2020

*Alleges plot to frustrate ongoing trial of NBC boss, Kawu, others
Eric Ikhilae, Abuja
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has added a twist to the trial of the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Is’haq Modibo Kawu and three others, with the failed attempt by its operatives to arrest one of the defendants in Abuja
The ICPC is currently prosecuting Kawu, Pinnacle Communications Limited, its Chairman, Lucky Omoluwa and the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, Dipo Onifade before a Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged fraud in the handling the of N2.5 billion, which formed part of the seed grant for the Digital Switch-Over (DSO) project of the Federal Government.
The prosecution has, for the last three adjourned dates, been unable to proceed with its case, claiming its last two witnesses, including the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed was not available, a development that prompted the trial judge, Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo to, on the last adjourned date, threatened to close the prosecution’s case.
Pinnacle Communications claimed that, rather than await the conclusion of the case in court, the ICPC sent its officials to invade its (the firm’s) premises on January 15, 2020 with the intention of forcefully arresting its Chairman, who is a defendant in the case before the Federal High Court.
The firm’s lawyer, Abayomi Oyelola told journalists in Abuja that ICPC operatives attempted to force their way into the premises, but were resisted by the company’s security personnel, who demanded their search and arrest warrants, which they failed to produce.
Oyelola, who noted that the incident was captured by security camera, said the management of Pinnacle Communications was worried that ICPC has resorted to self-help and an attempt to circumvent the case pending in court.
He said the firm has petitioned the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami and the Chairman of the ICPC, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye on the need for them to intervene.
Oyelola said:`This is to draw the attention of the appropriate authorities and the general public to the despicable, unwarranted, and illegal invasion of the company’s office located on Charles DeGualle Street, Asokoro, Abuja by operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) on January 15, 2020.
“The action was no doubt, a dastardly and gangster-like manner with an acclaimed “order from above’’ to arrest the company’s Chairman and Managing Director as well as seal the Pinnacle Operational office.
“The operatives and policemen came fully armed in four vehicles, three Hilux vans and a car, garbed in ICPC jackets that authenticated their identities. The company’s security cameras had captured the incidence with available footage as evidence.
“During the encounter, Pinnacle communications officials demand the warrant of arrest and order of court that legally gave them the impetus.
“The operatives failed to produce any document. Rather they claimed that they were working with geographical coordinate. Whatever that means in anti-corruption parlance,’’ Oyelola said.
According to him, the invasion of the company’s premises amounted to regulatory terrorism.
“ This illegal attempt to harass and intimidate the company and its officials further confirms that the ICPC has been on a witch-hunt mission from the beginning.
“Pinnacle, as a law abiding entity expresses concern on this show of dastardly act undertaken by the ICPC.
“As law abiding citizens, we are urging the ICPC’s Chairman, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, to respect the rule of law and call his men to order so as to forestall actions that could further tarnish the image of the commission.
“We are also urging the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN) to swiftly check the excesses of the ICPC and investigate this matter with a view to deflating the obvious display of prejudice in the agency’s dealings with Pinnacle Communications Limited,” Oyelola said.
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