The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has been asked to release details of expenditure on payment to key Digital Switch Over (DSO) stakeholders.
The Federal Government had paid a whopping N9.4b to the stakeholders.
In a letter addressed to the Minister last week, Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption coalition asked the Minister to make available to the public how the N9.4b funds released to the stakeholders was spent.
The letter with the caption “Request for information on the N9.4b approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOI ACT 2011)” was sent to the Minister last Monday.
In March 2021, during the unveiling of the 13-member Ministerial Task Force on Digital Switch Over (DSO), the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the sum of N9.4 Billion as outstanding payment to key Digital Switch Over (DSO) stakeholders.
Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption coalition, Civil Society Network Against Corruption, (CSNAC) in the letter signed by its Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju said the Minister has immediate obligation to make public how the funds were expended.
The request by (CSNAC) was hinged on legal framework of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2021 which mandates public access to vital information.
The CSNAC has some 140 affiliate members spread across Nigeria representing the country’s most formidable anti-corruption network and by far one of the most influential in Africa.
“Nigerians have the right to know how the funds were spent. We are making the request in the overall public interest and in line with transparency and accountability in public administration,” Mr Suraju said in the letter addressed to the Minister.
Controversy is raging over the funds amidst reports that the expenditure is shrouded in corruption allegations. Some N2.5 billion of the funds, for instance, were given as seed grant to a private company which led to the suspension and arraignment of a former Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The coalition is making the request in line with Section 2, 3 and 4 of the FOI Act, 2011.
The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), requests being made include but not limited to evidence of payments made to the stakeholders/beneficiaries of the N9.4 Billion, agreement of engagement of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) stakeholders and a detailed expenditure that meets global standard.
“We have given you seven days to respond to the request. This is necessary for the Information Ministry to avoid necessary charges in the Court of law,” Suraju said.