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Lai Mohammed Okayed Payment of N2.5Bn to Pinnacle for DSO Project- Witness

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Lai Mohammed, information minister
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Mrs Alheri Saidu, a witness of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), called in the trial of Ishaq Modibbo, director general, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), and three others on Thursday, revealed that Lai Mohammed, information minister,  gave approval for payment of N2.5bn to Pinnacle Communications Ltd.

 

Those being tried alongside the NBC Boss include, Sir Lucky Omoluwa, Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Ltd (PCL), and the Chief Operating Officer Dipo Onifade, as well as PCL.

 

The trio, including PCL, are facing trial over allegation of fraud in the digital switch over project of the Federal Government.

 

Testifying before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo Giwa of the Federal High Court Abuja, Mrs Saidu, a retired legal adviser to NBC, told the court that the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, made the approval in accordance with the provisions of the 2012 White Paper on Implementation of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project.

 

Saidu was led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Henry Emore.

 

The White Paper was admitted as exhibit 2 by the court.

 

According to the witness, a total of N10bn was approved for the DSO project by the Federal Government from which another company CCNL was also paid based on the Information Minister’s approval.

 

The prosecution witness (Saidu) further disclosed that when she was the Acting Director General of NBC, she did approve the payment to CCNL without a board.

 

Saidu also told the court that in 2014, another limited liability company set up by the NTA, ITS Limited, was paid N1.7bn by the NBC for the DSO as recommended by the 2012 White Paper.

 

But during cross-examination by A. V Etuwewe, counsel to the 4th defendant (PCL), the ICPC witness could not cite where the White Paper prohibited similar payment to PCL.

 

More so, Saidu denied a statement credited to her in the minutes of an emergency management meeting of NBC held on May 31, 2017, in respect of the request for payment by PCL.

The statement linked to Saidu was that she said “All over the world where the DSO was implemented, government paid for services rendered to it”.

 

Saidu said when she saw the statement, she did not formally write to disown that portion of the minutes credited to her.

 

On the reference to “level playing field” for the private signal distributor in the White Paper, Saidu said it could mean not putting the private signal distributor at a disadvantage, among other meanings.

 

Further more, Saidu said there was no legislative document covering implementation of the DSO as the White Paper was a policy guide referred to in implementing the project.

 

She read from an official document on the DSO which states that the DSO is “under strict supervision of the Minister of Information,” adding that there was no more superior approval than ministerial approval for the NBC concerning the DSO.

 

Saidu disclosed that the Abuja DSO was officially launched with equipment and facilities of PCL atop the Mpape Hill, Abuja, on December 22, 2016, by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammad Buhari, adding that the Information Minister, herself and other stakeholders were present during the DSO launch.

 

In addition, she stated that PCL is a major stakeholder in the DSO Nigeria project.

 

Testifying earlier, Olawale Abiodun Osisanwo, (pw1) a deputy director of Finance at NBC told the court that he processed the payment of N2.5bn to Pinnacle Communications Limited after all the necessary documentation was attached and the audit department also passed it for payment.

 

Oshisanwo said although he raised some observations when the DG held discussion with him, however he admitted not putting such observations in writing.

 

Also, Mr Chukwuemeka Iwunna, an assistant director Human Resource Department, who acted as secretary to the NBC board, was called as witness number two by ICPC.

 

Iwunna disclosed in his testimony that an emergency management meeting was summoned by the DG to discuss request for payment from PCL and that the minutes he produced was what transpired during the meeting.

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Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko’s White Ebony Raises Awareness of Albinism

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SMO Contemporary Art is delighted to present White Ebony, an exhibition of twenty thought-provoking photographs by social activist photographer Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko, which captures the complexity of life that Persons with Albinism (PWAs) face daily.

 

White Ebony is being showcased by Temple Muse for the next two months to support the recognition and protection of persons with albinism in commemoration of the International Albinism Awareness Day, which comes up on June 13th every year.

 

White Ebony challenges preconceived notions on albinism with powerful images which reflect a Renaissance beauty through sensitive lighting, composition, and layered stylistic interpretations.

 

White Ebony takes the viewer on an emotional journey that is filled with nuance as well as controversial in its stark positioning and challenging suggestions.

 

Each work reflects both internal struggles while working through layers of identity and self-actualization, and points to the urgent need to stop the stigmatisation of persons with albinism.

 

According to the United Nations, “people with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide.

 

Albinism is still profoundly misunderstood, socially and medically. The physical appearance of persons with albinism is often the object of erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition, which foster their marginalization and social exclusion.”

 

Ayeni-Babeko, worked closely with members of The Albino Foundation in Lagos, and after in-depth interviews and insightful group discussions, began interpreting their reality through photographs which explore both the alienation and struggles experienced by persons with albinism, as well as celebrates their lives and achievements.

 

“As in her previous exhibitions, which have tackled issues such as the challenges survivors of breast cancer face, or photographing dancers performing within slums to highlight the needs of populations living in shantytowns,  Ayeni-Babaeko’s amazing artistry is heightened by her commitment to social change and supporting marginalized communities,” said Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, the exhibition curator and expert in development communications, who has worked on three previous shows with the photographer.

 

“It’s easy to create a striking image of a person with albinism because of how unique they are.

 

“But these models were not just put in front of my camera for me to photograph them. I was able to really connect with them through long conversations about their daily struggles, sharing with me what their life is like and all this knowledge translated into this new body of work,” explained Yetunde Ayeni Babaeko while presenting White Ebony.

 

“My work is not there to make you feel good, its purpose is to trigger you to think and expand your knowledge.”

 

Jake Epelle, Founder and President of the Albino Foundation, said “Working with a sensitive photographer like Yetunde has been a great creative approach to raising awareness about the challenges people with albinism face every day,”

 

“Much more needs to be done to advocate for the recognition and respect of the rights and socio-economic inclusion of people living with albinism.

 

“The Foundation works with governments and development institutions to improve the health and social wellbeing of PWAs in Nigeria.”

 

“Hogan Lovells is committed to supporting important social causes such as raising global awareness of albinism, as well as celebrating the arts as a way of strengthening society,” commented Andrew Skipper, Partner and Head of Africa Practice of the international law firm, Hogan Lovells, which sponsored the exhibition.

 

“Yetunde’s work is a powerful example of art for social change and we are delighted to showcase her work,” said Avinash Wadhwani, CEO of Temple Muse, the design luxury concept store.

 

White Ebony runs from May 25th until July 19th, and a portion of the income from sales will go towards supporting people with albinism.

 

Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko was born in Enugu, eastern Nigeria in 1978 to a Nigerian father and a German mother.

 

She graduated in photography from Macromedia, a school for art and design in Osnabrueck, Germany.

 

After working for a number of companies in Germany and Nigeria in advertising photography, she opened her own company, Camara Studios in 2007.

 

Besides her fashion and documentary photography, Ayeni-Babaeko has facilitated numerous workshops in partnership with the Goethe Institute, mentoring young female photographers.

 

Ayeni-Babaeko has published work in Germany, has had three solo exhibitions and taken part in numerous group shows in Nigeria including The Collectors Series, Eko Moves and Wanderlust curated by SMO Contemporary Art.

 

 

 

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Ayeni Adekunle, BHM Founder to Speak At 2019 Africa Communications Week

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Ayeni Adekunle, CEO, Black House Media (BHM) has been confirmed to speak at a masterclass during the 2019 Africa Communications Week.

 

The masterclass which is themed “Strategies for Driving Disruptive Innovation In Communications” will see Ayeni share his wealth of experience with the audience.

 

The event will hold at Oriental Hotel on Thursday, May 24, 2019.

 

Africa Communications Week is the premier gathering for communications professionals and thought leaders looking to impact the current narrative on Africa.

 

The organisation hosts a series of conferences, workshops and webinars around the world to encourage Africa focused communications professionals connect, engage and impact Africa’s economic transformation through strategic communication.

 

Ayeni was listed as one of the top 30 communications professionals in Africa in a report released by the organisation on April 16, 2019.

 

Speaking ahead of the Masterclass, Ayeni said, “Over the years, the African Communications Week has offered communication professionals like me, the chance to meet, network and rub minds.

 

“This also gives us the opportunity to discuss the impact of communication of Africa’s development.

 

I’m excited to be part of this year’s event and I look forward to speaking and sharing ideas with the audience”.

 

Africa Communications Week is an annual event which hosts various marketing communications professionals from all over the continent.

 

With various industry stakeholders in attendance, the event provides the opportunity for like minds to convene, connect, engage and impact economic transformation in the continent through strategic communication.

 

 

 

 

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World Cultural Day: Ariya Repete Returns, Introduces New Afro-Pop Category

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Nigeria’s foremost talent hunt competition for indigenous Yoruba music is back for yet another edition.

 

The 2019 Edition of Ariya Repete was announced on the 21st of May at a media briefing hosted at the Nigerian Breweries Headquarters in Lagos.

 

The day, which also marked the World cultural & diversity day, provided the perfect incentive for Goldberg Lager to unveil the beloved talent hunt competition.

 

The media briefing featured an excellent roundtable conversation by some veterans in traditional genres of Yoruba music (i.e Juju, Fuji) as well as some new generation artists whose music has been influenced by the Yoruba culture.

 

Moderated by leading on-air personality – Adebayo Faleke, the panelists included veterans like Dr Saheed Osupa, Sir Shina Peters, Yinka Davis, President of FUMAN, Alhaji Sikiru Agboola as well as Tolu Obey, who is a PMAN executive and the son of Legendary Juju artist, Ebenezer Obey.

 

The new generation was ably represented by the likes of Sound Sultan and renowned music producer ID Cabasa.

 

The panel discussion which was themed around the topic – “One Culture, One Voice, New Sound” provided the perfect platform to announce the return of one of the most revered initiatives that celebrate the Yoruba culture.

 

The panelists discussed the evolution of indigenous Yoruba genres of music, highlighting the roles played by both the older and younger generation of artists.

 

The exciting roundtable conversations were an eye opener as the artists shared various insights into the past and potential future of the industry.

 

This year’s edition of Ariya Repete is set to up the ante and will be the first ever to be aired on television with the aim to reach an even wider audience.

 

This is particularly exciting for fans of the show as the 2019 Ariya Repete will be introducing an all-new category tagged ‘Afro Pop’.

 

The introduction of Afro-Pop has already got fans eagerly anticipating the selection parties which will be kicking off in various cities across western Nigeria on the 11th of June.

 

Maria Shadeko, Senior Brand Manager of Goldberg & Life Lager who spoke at the round table session expressed delight at the return of the talent hunt,

 

“Ariya Repete is a very special platform that allows us to showcase and celebrate the very best talents in South-Western Nigeria.

 

“Over the years, we have been able to continually delight our consumers with this initiative as well as provide unforgettable memories for winners of past editions.

 

“This year we are taking it further by not only increasing the prize money but also adding an all-new category.

 

“The theme of this year’s competition is ‘The Fusion’, and in light of this, we are looking for the next big artist who will dominate the Nigerian music scene.

 

“We, at Goldberg, applaud the innovative and inspiring fusion of traditional Yoruba music with contemporary music.

 

“This year, with Ariya Repete we want to celebrate this blend of both worlds.

 

“We believe that the 2019 Ariya Repete will be the best ever, which is why we are taking the experience to TV, to show all of Africa that Goldberg Lager believes and celebrates the amazing indigenous talents from southwestern Nigeria.”

 

The regional auditions are set to kick-off on the 11th of June as Goldberg takes the auditions and selection parties to 8 western cities in two weeks.

 

The selected talents will then head down to Lagos for mentorship sessions by some of the respected acts in their genres before returning to the contest to slug it in the quarterfinals from 5th of July.

 

The Semi-Final will be hosted on the 12th of July while the grand finale is slated for 19th of July.

 

Ariya Repete is proudly sponsored by Goldberg lager; Goldberg lager is renowned for conceptualizing and executing initiatives such as these, which highlights the beauty of tradition and culture.

 

With a wide array of exciting consumer engagement activities that brilliantly connects with its ever-loyal audience, Goldberg continues to remain one of the most authentic brands in the beer industry.

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