Fraud: Lai Mohammed approved N2.5 billion contract payment, says he was deceived

Nigeria’s minister of information and culture Mr. Lai Mohammed has signed a fraudulent payment of N2.5 billion to a private firm, digital broadcast signal distributor, Premium Times, an online newspaper has reported.

Admitting signing the sum, Lai said, he did not carry out proper checks before given his approval.

The minister testified before Nigeria anti-graft agent, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) that he approved payment for the firm on the recommendation of the director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in May 2017.

Since 2018, the anti-graft agency have been investigating the deal, this is even as they have dragged Mr. Modibbo Kawu, the DG of NBC to court over the alleged fraudulent transaction.

Still, Mr. Kawu has denied any wrongdoing while he will be appearing in court on Wednesday together with Mr. Lucky Omoluwa, who is also a party to deal.

The minister refused to co-operate with the investigators, and, said he needed “clearance” from Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Nigerian government secretary.

Corroborating the minister action, an ICPC top official, disclosed that Mohammed harassed the investigation team who visited him for questioning.

Mr. Rasheedat Okoduwa, the ICPC spokesperson, told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Mohammed was not dragged to court because he claims he was tricked into approving the payment.

This is even as documents show that Muhammed played a fundamental role in the deal. He approved many documents, had several discussions with the contracting firm and even traveled abroad to inspect equipment meant to be delivered as part of contractual obligations.

And worse still, he claims he is ignorant of the documents he signed.

I have committed no offense for recommending that Lai Mohammed approves such payment, but, cannot be held responsible for the minster approval, Mr. Kawu said.

Mr. Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s Attorney-General and the Minister of justice has demanded the case file by showing interest in the matter.

An action ICPC officials say was an attempt to frustrate the trial.

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