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



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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French Media Giant Acquires Nigeria’s ROK Studios



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Canal+ Group, French media giant, has acquired Nigerian production studio, ROK film studios from VOD company IROKO TV, as part of the French company’s plan to strengthen its position in Africa’s movie market.


Canal+ Group has been quietly making moves in Nollywood, one of the world’s largest film industries, and is now looking to create more African original content.


According to a statement released by ROK, the studio, launched in 2013 by Mary Njoku, actor and producer, is Nigeria’s largest production house with more than 500 movies and 25 TV shows.


The organization currently produce Ghanaian and Nigerian movies, reaching 15 million subscribers across DSTV and GOTV platforms, the statement said.


Njoku says that Canal+ is working with ROK because the studio has the ability to create Nollywood content at scale.

“They (Canal+) wanted an organization that could supply their studio with Nollywood content. They have some channels in Francophone Africa and wanted a supply of African content for those channels,” she told CNN.


Canal+ currently offers Nollywood TV, a fiction channel dedicated to Nigerian movies to its subscribers in French-speaking Africa.


The French media company has turned its sights on African viewers as growth has declined in its home terrain due to competition from Amazon, Apple and Netflix.


“This acquisition represents a key stage in Canal + group’s international expansion. It allows the group to be present across the entire Nollywood value chain, and acquire unique expertise in the mass production of African fiction — films, series, and entertainment,” Canal+ said in a media release.


Acquiring ROK will create more hours of Nollywood content for Canal+ Group’s audience in France and represents a battle for African eyeballs between media powerhouses such as Netflix and China’s StarTimes.


Njoku said the acquisition is a sign that Nigeria’s movie industry is doing well in producing quality content for the continent.


“When a company as big as Canal+ acknowledges and is ready to work with us to export Nollywood, it sends out a positive signal to the movie industry. Filmmakers are assured that they are doing something right,” she said.


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Legend Extra Stout Broadens Product Offering, Introduces New 45cl Bottle



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Legend Extra Stout, Nigeria’s leading stout brand has extended its market penetration with the launch of its new 45cl bottle.


The new product size was unveiled at a special celebration ceremony at Radisson Blu, Ikeja, Lagos on Friday, July 12, 2019.


The event which was tagged the “Power Of 45” had hundreds of guests and consumers in attendance, as hordes of Nigerians got the chance to have a first look at the new product offering from Legend Extra Stout.


Speaking after the event, the Portfolio Manager, National Premium Lager, NB Plc, Sarah Agha expressed her delight at the consumers’ positive reaction to this new product offering.


According to her, the rich history of Legend Extra Stout is one that is replete with innovation because the brand continuously focuses on optimum consumer satisfaction.


“This unique stout brand has undergone evolutions in times past. Since it was first launched in 1992, the brand has proven its prominence in the beer industry and has undergone various changes in its bottle shape and labeling.


Now, we are introducing an all-new size, a 45cl sleek master which encapsulates our new brand narrative. Our message to our consumers is – go out and pick your size! It doesn’t matter if you are a 33cl, 60cl or 45cl guy, as long as you are true to yourself, you are a Legend.”


According to Sarah Agha, this new bottle affirms the unique positioning of Legend Extra Stout as the unique bitter tasting stout of choice for the sociable, modern, ambitious and courageous Nigerian who is yearning to enjoy the finer things in life.


Consumers can be rest assured that the 45cl bottle remains the same full brewed stout, produced from the finest ingredients, brewed and bottled under the highest quality standards.


The launch event was full of exciting moments as hundreds of consumers were treated to breathtaking performances by some of Nigeria’s A-list performers including Timaya and Chike.


This product launch adds to Legend’s long list of exciting brand initiatives in 2019. Earlier in the year, Legend Extra Stout set out to redefine itself, and broaden its appeal to Nigerians. What followed were a set of audio-visual commercials emphasizing Legend’s new brand narrative of “Be Yourself”.


This simple yet brilliant campaign has seen the brand reinvent itself in an interesting way, as it encourages consumers to be proud of their uniqueness rather than conform to societal norms.


Over the years, Legend Extra Stout has continued to position itself as a credible stout of choice, full-brewed the way an original stout should, giving the brand credibility to be called the ‘Real Deal’.


This sincere proposition has sustained the brand’s steady market growth since its re-launch in 2009. With its most recent repositioning Legend, Extra Stout seeks to push the narrative, encouraging Nigerians to not only be real but be original as well.


The 45cl bottles are available in stores across Lagos.


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Ariya Repete Selection Parties Conclude in Ilorin & Osogbo



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The final selection parties of the Ariya Repete music contest took place in Osogbo and Ilorin on Friday the 5th of July as the last batch of successful contestants were selected to enter into the quarter-final stage of the competition.


Over the last four weeks, the competition has moved across eight cities in southwestern Nigeria and has uncovered some amazing talents in Fuji, Juju and Yoruba hip hop.


At the Osogbo and Ilorin selection parties, six talented acts were crowned regional champions. Adebayo Amos, Wasiu Onilewura, and Oyesola Boluwatife emerged as Osogbo winners in the Juju, Fuji, and Yoruba Hip-hop category respectively.


While in Ilorin, Afolabi Ibrahim, Seun Agbayi, and Mayowa Alayo fought off stiff competition to make it to the quarter-final stage.


The next stage of the competition is set to up the stakes, as the 24 regional winners will battle at the quarter-final concert in Akure on the 26th.


Prior to the competition resuming in the last week of July, contestants will undergo a one-week mentorship session in the Ariya academy.


Here, they will be tutored on how to hone their skills by some of the leading Juju and Fuji musical acts in the Nigerian entertainment scene.


Speaking after the completion of the regional auditions and selection parties, Goldberg Lager Brand Manager, Funmi Ogunbodede, expressed his delight saying,


“This platform has continuously discovered talented individuals in the indigenous music scene, while also giving them a platform to showcase their talents to the world.


This year has been no different, and I’m very proud of the contestants. I believe we will have an amazing quarter-final showdown.”


He further congratulated the quarterfinalists and wished them all the best as they continue to compete to win their share in the grand prize of 20 Million Naira.


Ariya Repete is proudly sponsored by Goldberg Lager Beer. Over the years, Goldberg has consistently pushed the bar in excellence, continually providing fans and consumers with remarkable experiences which dial up the culture and traditions of the people, whilst also appreciating modern social conventions.


This perfect blend of both worlds has enabled Goldberg to remain one of the most authentic brands in the beer industry.

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