277 views | Akanimo Sampson | June 10, 2020
The rot in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) appears to be worse than the anti-graft agencies could ever imagine. It also seems the forensic audit might not be able to uncover all the cans of worms in the supposed development commission.
President Muhammadu Buhari last October ordered a forensic audit of the operations of NDDC from 2001 to 2019. The decision followed persistent criticisms of the operations of the commission.
Amid allegations of an official cover-up, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaboshi, is currently calling for an independent investigation of all contract awarded by the interventionist agency.
In a daring challenge to the NDDC, Nwaoboshi claims that if the independent probe he is calling for is allowed, ‘’findings would not show that Godswill Akpabio is the greatest beneficiary of contract awards and looter of the commission.’’
The embattled senator is accusing Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State former governor (2007-2015) and the incumbent Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, of allegedly looting the NDDC, through contracts.
He is alleging that Akpabio uses proxies to lie and blackmail him, claiming that documents available to him clearly show that the minister who allegedly looted N108 billion while serving as governor, received N500million contracts from the NDDC in 2017 when he served as Minority Leader of the Senate.
Nwaboshi’s media aide, Luka Igbinoba, in a statement is challenging Akpabio to produce any documentary evidence linking him to any contract awards in NDDC.
But the Director of NDDC’s Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, claimed that the Commission searched through its records and there was no evidence of any contract awarded to Akpabio or any company associated with him by the NDDC.
“From our findings, the person who has questions to answer to the Niger Delta people is Nwaoboshi. Our records show that Nwaoboshi used 11 front companies (owned or traceable to him) to secure a contract of N3.6 billion in September 2016, in what is perhaps the biggest single case of looting of the Commission’s resources.”
According to him, the front companies used by Nwaoboshi include Noan Integrated Services; De Towers Constructions & Allied Services Ltd; l Franstine Nigeria Enterprises; Edrihide Company; Isumabe U.K. Global; Benchmark Construction & Allied Services Ltd; Millstone Allied Builders Ltd.; Nelpat Nigeria Company; Agh-Rown Ventures; Edendoma Stars International; and Antlers Construction and Allied Works Ltd.
Continuing, the NDDC spokesman says their inventory records show that these items were supplied and received on Nwaoboshi’s business premises and warehouse. Meanwhile, the contracts were awarded to him.
It said some of the items supplied to Nwaoboshi’s warehouse through his cronies, were later resold to the Delta State Government, while the others were sold to other states through contracts awarded to him.
“All supply agreements were signed by the same person being Agbamuche Nelson, traceable to Nwaoboshi. This is in flagrant contravention of section 58(4) (a) and (d) of the Public Procurement Act. No wonder Nwaoboshi and his cohorts are jittery about the ongoing forensic audit exercise in the NDDC and are doing everything possible to derail it.
“We believe that until Nwaoboshi can absolve himself of his role in the looting of the resources of the Commission, he should step aside from any investigative activity against the Commission,” demanded the commission’’, NDDC said.
Responding, the senator said, ‘’the charade in the past weeks by the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC to blackmail a routine task of the National Assembly to perform its oversight function as stated in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has no doubt become a national embarrassment.
‘’More so is the uncharitable and condemnable low of smear campaigns against members of the institution, churning out blatant lies that are easily verifiable. The latest, been a press release signed by a supposed civil servant, on allegations that are completely false and unfounded.
“They listed 11 companies and ascribed ownership to Senator Nwaboshi. These are companies that he does not know nor had anything to do with. A simple search at the Corporate Affairs Commission will, at least, show both former and present directors. How do you libelously claim a man owns companies that perhaps belong to other people?
‘’Apparently, the officials might have generated names of companies they have probably used to siphon the people’s common patrimony, everyone involved must face the wrath of the law as It is expected that due diligence should precede any contract award.
‘’In any case, if the contracts were actually awarded in 2016 as alleged, the forensic audit which covers the period is expected to expose every detail surrounding these contracts and save the public from this
“We strongly challenge NNDC to avail the public of the names of directors and shareholders of all the companies. For the umpteenth time, Senator Nwaoboshi once again declares that he is neither a director nor shareholder in any of the companies listed by NDDC.
“Nigerians are aware that the misleading press release is just another desperate attempt to rescue the already shredded and tattered image of Akpabio. Senator Nwaboshi, once again, stands on and reaffirms all he said in his last press conference as it concerns the minister.
‘’He made it very clear and evidentially backed it up by presenting a memo written to him by Akpabio in 2017, requesting the inclusion of projects in the 2017 NDDC budget amounting to the tune of N500 million. The fact of this request is incontrovertibly true as contained in the said memo which is in the public domain. No amount of brazen denial can subvert the documented evidence. The commission keeps indicting itself in the desperate attempt to exonerate Akpabio.
“The claim that some school desks and chairs purportedly produced for NDDC were diverted and supplied to Delta state government by him is a white lie from the pit of hell. Since becoming a senator in 2015, Senator Nwaoboshi has not received any contract award or executed any for the Delta state government. These facts can be verified from Delta state government records.
“The inconsistency in lies dished out by the Interim management committee of NDDC against Senator Peter Nwaoboshi easily exposes the laughable attempt to smear an innocent man. First, they alleged he was receiving N1.00 billion monthly as consultancy fee. Same NDDC admitted that the allegation is false.
‘’They later turned around to allege that he received 1000 contracts. When that again fell like every other, the narrative changed to 350 contracts. All of a sudden, it has all collapsed to 11 contracts. Soon, the number shall obviously come to zero. That is the ways of lies; they crumble like a pack of cards.’’