By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
A fifth prosecution witness, Engr. Friday Ukwela, yesterday, revealed to a Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, that the Digital Switch Over facility put in place by Pinnacle Communications Ltd (PCL), “is world class”.
Ukwela, a Director Engineering and Technical, NBC, disclosed this in the on going trial of the Director General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Ishaq Modibbo and three others.
At the resumption of trial yesterday, Ukwela, under cross examination by counsel to Pinnacle Communications Ltd (4th defendant) Ama Etuwewe also stated that the DSO project “is a very expensive venture”
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) witness added that the Minister of Information, Prof Lai Mohammed, who approved the payment of N2.5billion to PCL, “is familiar with DSO project but does not know substantantially everything about DSO”.
“I know that the DSO is a very expensive project.
“Yes, I was part of the team that visited and inspected the DSO facility put in place by Pinnacle Communications Ltd.
“It is a world class facility and has been in operation till date” the witness told the court, while answering questions from the 4th defendant’s lawyer.
Further in the cross examination, the witness stated that going by the government White Paper on the DSO project, “it was agreed that signal distributors should be paid for services rendered.
However, Ukwela disclosed that television stations whose signals are being distributed by PCL across the length and breadth of Nigeria have not been paying for Carriage Fees because the fees have not been determined by the industry.
It would be recalled that the fourth prosecution witness, Charles Adams, had admitted that the N2.5bn was part of the N10bn released by the Federal Government to execute the DSO Project in the country and that the NBC had not received any complaint from the FG in respect of the money paid to PCL.
Adams testified that, “the presidency did not complain up to this moment; the Information Minister agreed that he approved the N2.5bn, and has not written to withdraw the approval up till now, neither did he inform us that he was misled nor told us in writing that PCL was not entitled to the N2.5bn.”