Digital switch-over: Pinnacle Absolves Self of Fraud Allegation

Pinnacle Communications Limited, the private licensed signal distributor for the Federal Government’s approved implementation of the Transition from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Broadcasting in Nigeria, has absolved the firm of alleged complicity and misapplication of money meant for the implementation of the digital switch-over (DSO) project.

The management of the company in a statement issued over the weekend, dismissed as untrue, false and unsubstantiated the media reports linking it with the allegation that N2.5 billion seed grant released to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for the project had been misapplied.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) was reported to be investigating the allegation.

In the statement by the Chief Operating Officer, Dipo Onifade, Pinnacle Communications stated that the firm has always been transparent in all its dealings with the NBC and it has discharged its obligations on the digital switch-over project in compliance with the terms and conditions of the contract.

“To this extent therefore, all transactions between NBC and Pinnacle Communications have always been transparent and within the official approved operational guidelines and regulations as processed and executed by the NBC and in compliance with the terms and conditions of the license for signal distribution that Pinnacle Communications duly obtained”, he said.

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Onifade stated that it became necessary to make the clarifications in view of the deliberate omission and distortion in the media reports that were based on the statement purportedly issued by ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, disclosing that the Commission was investigating NBC, its Director General, Dr. Ishaq Moddibbo Kawu, and other top management staff of the agency over their alleged involvements in the misapplication of the of N2.5 billion seed grant.

Pinnacle Communications further said it is the only private licensed signal distributor for the DSO initiative in accordance with the 2012 Government White Paper under section 11.2 (a) which approved that “more than one signal distributor be licensed in addition to NTA, the public licensed signal distributor. Another signal distributor should be licensed immediately.”

He added further that the firm was awarded the licence in 2014 having emerged the successful bidder out of nine companies that participated in the rigorous public tender and in full compliance with due process requirements.

“Since then, Pinnacle Communications Limited has been a major facilitator of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) implementation process in Nigeria, notably as the broadcast signal distributor for the National Launch of the DSO in Abuja in 2016 at its state-of-the-art Broadcast Centre on Mpape Hill, performed by His Excellency, Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Company was also responsible for the Kaduna Digital Broadcast Signal Distribution Centre commissioned in 2017 by the Kaduna State Governor, His Excellency, Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai”, he affirmed.

Onifade dismissed the alleged statements attributed to the ICPC spokesperson that Pinnacle Communications 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.”

“The 2014 licensing of Pinnacle Communications in the DSO predates the appointment of the current DG of NBC in 2016”, the company said, stressing that DTT Broadcast Engineering is a field in which it has earned recognition and patronage for more than two decades of expertise and dependability of world class service and installations across Nigeria.

It further dismissed the confusion created by the ICPC spokesperson saying, “Neither the DSO nor Pinnacle Communications Limited has anything to do with “migration of telephone lines from analogue to digital platforms” as the ICPC spokesperson is alleged to have stated.”

“Pinnacle Communications further maintains that the facts and clarifications provided above sufficiently define the context and extent of its involvement in the implementation of the DSO program in Nigeria and the nature of its working relationship with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)”, it noted.

Onifade also stated, “We wish to clearly emphasise that Pinnacle Communications Limited has not and cannot as a licensee of NBC trespass into the statutory functions of the NBC and/or the Federal Ministry of Information on the implementation of the DSO program.”

The firm added, “Having made all the necessary statements in response to the ICPC’s investigations and taking cognisance of the pendency of Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/779/2018 that Pinnacle Communications instituted in July 2018 in the Federal High Court, Abuja on a related matter against ICPC and two others, (not related to stopping any investigation by ICPC) Pinnacle Communications considers it unprofessional, ill-advised, injudicious, prejudicial and unfair for the ICPC spokesperson to make as alleged random references to disjointed portions of comprehensive submissions to its investigators, clearly skewed to portray Pinnacle Communications Limited as complicit in the alleged or any “misapplication” of funds by the NBC, over which Pinnacle Communications have no responsibility or control. Pinnacle Communications challenges the ICPC spokesperson, if the alleged press release was indeed made by her, to publish the full statements made to the ICPC by Pinnacle officials.”

It said, “Moreover, if truly made, the ICPC statement went beyond mere announcement of on-going investigations into the realm of unsubstantiated incriminations in the fashion of trial-by-media that invariably paints a premature and amateur picture of guilt, prior to judicial determination.

Onifade assured the NBC, stakeholders in the DSO, its staff, international and local business associates and numerous clients that it remains committed to meeting all its obligations notwithstanding the malicious statement by the ICPC spokesperson.

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