BY ESE DIBEBI
As news that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the return of N10bn seized from the National Broadcasting Commission by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission filtered around this morning, the question on most people’s lips is: Is this vindication for Emeka Mba?
The Director-General of NBC who replaced Emeka Mba after his ordeal with the financial crimes body, Mallam Is’haq Kawu, said this in Abuja at a press conference held yesterday to announce the 20th edition of Africa Broadcasting Conference and Exhibition coming up in Abuja next week.
According to the DG, the money is part of the funds realized by the NBC from the controversial sale of frequency to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited. This money was what got Emeka Mba into trouble following allegation that the broadcast regulatory agency which he headed at the time failed to remit it to the Treasury Single Account at the time prescribed by the Federal Government.
Despite NBC’s claims that the funds were meant for projects being executed for the country’s migration to digital broadcasting, Emeka Mba was arrested on Monday, January 11 where he would spend eight days before being released on bail. During the investigations, EFCC claimed that “NBC under Mba is said to have defied the FG’s directive of August 7, 2015 on Treasury Single Account (TSA) to divert N15,038,400,000, out of N34,114,500,000 received from MTN for Spectrum Band Width, to finance the contract for the Digital Set-Top-Boxes. Out of the diverted N15,038,400,000 as collateral security to Zenith Bank Plc, EFCC investigators discovered that only N4,977,227,400 was needed.”
On Monday, February 15, 2016, President Buhari sacked Mba and five other heads of parastatals.
While announcing the President’s directive to EFCC to return the funds, Kawu said, “We are going to assist a lot of young people to get finances for the production of their contents. We are thinking in terms of content development fund within the NBC and the NBC also provides opportunity for young content providers.”
According to Kawu, a 10 per cent increase in the digitisation of the broadcast industry is predicted to create one million new jobs.