|Mr Lucky Omoluwa|
Months after he was virtually pushed out of office as the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, after a prolonged spat, facts have emerged as to the real reasons and the personae behind the unceremonious exit of Mr. Emeka Mba from his position. Checks by Per Second News reveal that a certain Sir Lucky Omoluwa, working hand in gloves with a crop of officers from the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC hatched, choreographed and executed the schisms that eventually led to his ouster.
Though Mba was officially removed from office along the wave of the Presidential directive which terminated the reign of hordes of DGs across Federal Departments and Agencies, his travails teed-off much earlier when Omoluwa who is the Chairman of Abuja based Pinnacle Communication Limited was alleged to have sent a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari under the fictitious name of Okey Nwafor.
In the said petition, ‘’Okey Nwafor’’ who to date has not been invited by the EFCC to substantiate his petition, inline with established EFCC procedure, alleged that Mba not only hid N15billion Naira government revenue from the Treasury Single Account (TSA), but also transferred same amount to five companies.
This allegation has been investigated and found that the money was committed to the Digital Television Switch Over (DSO) and approved to be deposited as collateral in Zenith Bank, ahead of the TSA directive, as off taker guaranty for the supply of setup boxes, and other elements of the DSO as approved by the former President Goodluck Jonathan, and the former ministers of information.
When Mba was fired along with other so called “PDP moles” or “Jonathan DG’s”, the hope was that the matter would end there. However, more trouble was to come his way when Omoluwa and his group got wind of renewed agitation by some concerned stakeholders for the reinstatement of Mba to enable him complete the task of migrating Nigeria from analogue to digital broadcasting so as to achieve the digital switch over (DSO), especially as Mba was found to have committed no wrong doing after the lengthy investigation; they immediately extended the focus of the original petition to include other areas including, how the NBC under Mr. Mba secured approval to license MTN, and all due payment to the legal consultant who facilitated the licensing transactions.
Those in the know of Omoluwa’s dalliance with Mba told Per Second News that the feud dates back to 2014. As the story goes, few months after his company Pinnacle Communications won the bid for the second national digital broadcast signal distributor license from the NBC, dissatisfied with the condition of the license, Pinnacle instituted a case in court against the NBC, the DG in his official and personal capacity, requesting the court to remove Mr. Mba from office as “unfit to hold office’; amongst other prayers. Since October 2014, Sir Omoluwa has never hidden his intent to use all his political connections to remove Mba. A source in the know said that he has links with many sponsored news reports and advertorials in newspapers including some by one “Mr. Danladi, a self proclaimed media investor from Kaduna” and lately the General Manager of Nassawara Broadcasting Services.
Sources close to the NBC and the investigation say the real reason Omoluwa is upset with the former NBC boss is because of his refusal to cancel the digital pay TV license granted to Details Nigeria LTD, operators of the GoTV service in Nigeria. Details has been an MMDS cable TV operator in Nigeria since 1994, and is owned by Lagos lawyer and business man Adewunmi Ogunsanya, who is also the chairman of Multichoice Nigeria.
According to sources, the Pinnacle boss who despite not having a known digital broadcasting infrastructure of his own, had planned to take over the digital broadcast signal distributor business of GoTV. It appears that the former NBC boss’ refusal to bow to his wishes is at the heart of this matter. The interesting aspect of all this development is that Mr. Mba is being pressured to request Details to give up their digital terrestrial pay TV license in exchange for Mba’s “freedom” from persecution.
Omoluwa, who had earlier failed to win in court in the law suit he filed against Mba and NBC, for allegedly undermining the license granted to his company Pinnacle Communications Limited, having suddenly discovered that the petition he invested heavily may come to naught, if Mba is reinstated as DG of NBC. He mounted spirited pressure on the lead EFCC operative assigned to investigate Mr. Mba’s alleged N15 billion TSA diversion, Mr. Abubakar Madaki, to file criminal charges against Mba. The new target now is to get Mba arraigned in court to answer to some criminal charges, however trivial or baseless, with or without evidence, to put the final nail on the coffin of Mba ever returning to NBC as DG. Sources say that it appears that Omoluwa has some kind of strange strong influence on Madaki and has even promised to facilitate his appointment as Chairman of EFCC, as he is confident Ibrahim Magu will not be confirmed by the senate.
In a telephone chat, Sunday, EFCC’s Abubakar Madaki denied any personal relationship with Mr Omoluwa, he claimed he has never influenced any investigation in favour of the Pinnacle boss.
Madaki told Per Second News that as an officer with the EFCC he only deals with cases as directed to him by the chairman.
An insider told this media house that Mba’s travails appears a strange twist of fate, he noted the fact that Pinnacle won the license was indeed largely due to Mba’s insistence on transparency and due process, and against political interference by several powerful people in government at that time.
He said that before the bid process began, the NBC received several security reports requesting the Commission not to license Pinnacle Communications, as it was linked to the APC, and it's national leader, Sen Bola Tinubu, and would allegedly be used to sway votes in favour of the party ahead of the 2015 general elections. Other sources within the Commission and close to the transaction, said that the NBC under the former DG insisted that all Nigerians regardless of party affiliation should be entitled to bid for the license, this was despite repeated attempts to sack the former DG for going against security reports.
It took the intervention of former President Goodluck Jonathan who insisted that the NBC and the DG should be allowed to do their work as professionals that allowed the former to complete the licensing, which saw the emergence of Pinnacle as eventual winner.
Pinnacle communications spokesperson, did not give a full-throated defence when asked about all the allegations, he said the matter is still in court and will not want to discuss it.
He confirmed that Pinnacle Communications took the NBC to court over contract breach.
Per Second News investigation further revealed that the board of the NBC in a bid to expedite the DSO reduced the license fee from N2billion to N500m for Mr Omoluwa’s Pinnacle Communications.
Answering questions about his relationship and current feud with the Pinnacle boss and the EFCC, former NBC DG Emeka Mba, said “"I am not aware of any links Mr Omoluwa has with anyone at the EFCC. Whilst I was DG, NBC licensed his firm Pinnacle in June 2014 as the second digital signal distributor; in late 2014 he filed a suit against the NBC, myself and few others seeking N1.2trillion in damages amongst other prayers. I have nothing against him or his company."
Queried by Per Second News for reasons why the licensing fee was reduced for Mr Omoluwa’s Pinnacle Communications, Mba, said that it was the decision of the board to assist the firm and to fasten the process of the DSO.
Stakeholders who spoke to Per Second News on Monday under the condition of anonymity condemned the action and the reduction in license fee for Pinnacle Communications.
Pressed further on the recent feud and contract breach with Pinnacle Communications, Mba said NBC do not enter into agreement with licenses, different from the license conditions issued to licenses, for which they sign an undertaking to abide by, and then make payment for the license fee. So how can NBC breach the license conditions granted to a licensee, which in itself is a privilege and not a right.”
In the meantime, the honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed recently reiterated his commitment to the national digital switch over, in a speech at the Jos pilot re-launch of the new national digital TV platform, the DSO, which when fully implemented is capable of creating thousands of jobs and revolutionizing the nation’s broadcasting, and entertainment industry, according to the minister.