The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), headed by Modibbo Ishaq Kawu, had granted a three-year licence to MultiChoice Nigeria Ltd.
However, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced that the licence had been withdrawn due to irregularities.
According to a report by Daily Independent, this followed the N2.5 billion scandal involving the NBC which the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) had investigated.
The report said the scandal pitched the parastatal’s Director-General and his backers in the presidency against the Information Minister.
It was learned that the relationship between the minister and the NBC Director General soured considerably when the ICPC investigated the N2.5 billion scandal.
The newspaper stated that the ICPC swung into action last month and attempted to arraign the NBC DG in court on Friday, March 8, but he was absent in court as his lawyers said he was sick and on admission at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital in Kwara State, north-central Nigeria.
The report further stated that, the minister of information struck again Weeks after ICPC’s attempts to arraign Kawu in court, nullifying the three-year licence which Kawu’s NBC had granted MultiChoice Nigeria Ltd.
In a letter dated March 29, 2019, the information minister said: “The decision to renew the GOTV licence for three years negate the position of the white paper on the DSO (Digital Switch Over), making it not only illegal but a willful disrespect for our laws and national institutions.
“Recall that the Ministerial Task Force on the DSO, which I chair, had specifically ruled that all Pay Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) companies would no longer be allowed to self-carry and would have to go to one of the two licence Signal Distributors for that function.
“That decision was made based on the government white paper which puts signal distributors in charge of transmission and separates them from content providers.”
The minister added: “No part of the licence fees paid by MultiChoice Nigeria Ltd should be touched by the NBC until a negotiated agreement has been signed, subject to my approval.”
Insiders in NBC told Daily Independent that, with the final paragraph of the minister’s letter (quoted above), Mohammed had actually served notice to all and sundry that he did not approve any spending for MultiChoice Nigeria.
The close watchers said the information minister did this because Kawu had argued that Mohammed approved the N2.5 billion which was paid as “seed grant” to Pinnacle Communications Ltd.