Former Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Joi Nunieh, has taken the messy interventionist agency again to the cleaners.
This time, the daring Ogoni woman has literally stripped the Commission’s Director of Legal Services, Peter Claver Okoro, naked in the public square.
But, Okoro called for her trouble. In a letter dated July 28, 2020, he requested Nunieh to refund the sum of N1.96.billion to the NDDC, within seven days.
In a damning response, Nunieh’s Press Secretary, Mrs. Waaka Lebari, says Okoro, was a deputy director in the Legal Services Directorate in the first two months of her principal’s tenure as the chief executive of NDDC.
‘’He was later redeployed from the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt to the State Office at Yenagoa, based on security advice against him, for being the head of a notorious cartel involved in the sales of fake and back-dated contracts, IPCs and legal agreements, who had defrauded several unsuspecting Nigerians.
‘’Sadly, but not surprising, he was redeployed back to the headquarters immediately after the removal of Nunieh, by the Expanded Interim Management Committee (EIMC) and rewarded with an illegal promotion as Director Legal Services, in contravention of the Public Service Rules (PSR).
‘’It was part of the illegal promotions made by the present EIMC, which was described by the representative of the Head of Service of the Federation (whilst giving evidence before the Senate Committee) as being strange and in clear contravention of S. 020701 (diii) of the PSR, which provides that only the Federal Civil Service Commission (or a Governing Board as stated in the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000) has the responsibility to promote officers from SGL 15-17 on the recommendation of the Head of the MDA and not the EIMC.
‘’Okoro was imposed on and illegally employed by the NDDC, as a deputy director without an application letter, advertisement for vacancy, examination, nor interview for his employment only a few years ago, and in clear contravention of S. 020102 of the PSR which, provide that, only the Federal Civil Service Commission can make such an appointments to positions of SGL 12-17 based on the needs and availability of vacancies after due advertisements have been published.
‘’Therefore, Okoro was not eligible for employment into the Federal Civil Service as listed in sections 020205, 020206 and 020207 of the PSR, in the first instance. He has shown in his letter that he is not conversant with the sections of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000, as he usurped the powers of the MD to write an external letter on behalf of the commission.
‘’We are not surprised that Okoro made himself a willing tool to be used to implement the agenda of his superiors and to revenge his redeployment. He failed to name his anonymous superiors, who he claimed directed him to write the letter, because they are too afraid of the wrath of Nunieh, who is always ready to produce more documentary and substantial evidence against them, especially as none of the allegations made by Nunieh against them, have been denied nor controverted till this day.
‘’In paragraph 1 of his letter, Okoro referred Nunieh to a memo dated January 17, 2020, written by a Director, EHSS requesting for payment for the Lassa Fever Personal Protection Kit. Contrary to Okoro’s claim, the memo did not contain any paragraph advising Nunieh against the payment for the Lassa Fever Personal Protection Kits.
‘’It was rather, a request for the payment for the Kits written by the Director EHSS for the contract awarded by the previous management led by Prof. Nelson Brambaifa. All kits procured, supplied and delivered to the NDDC warehouses in Port Harcourt. Nunieh only discovered the abandoned kits when she led other members of her IMC including Dr. Cairo Ojougbo(EDP) and late Chief Bassey Ettang (EDFA) on an inspection tour of the various NDDC warehouses.
‘’The EDFA initiated and personally took the responsibility of working with the Director EHSS in putting in place all payment processes with the Audit, Planning and Finance Departments for the payment for the Kits. The EDFA and EDP (Dr.Cairo Ojougbo) both accompanied Nunieh to defend the payment for the Kits before the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC.
‘’They also accompanied her to the handover ceremony of the kits to various state governors of Abia, Imo, Rivers, Edo, Ondo and Delta. The events are all captured and can be viewed on Youtube.
‘’In paragraph 2, Okoro referred to an un-named director whom he claimed wrote another memo and a minute to Nunieh. He then referred to 2 directors who he claimed advised Nunieh to include the untitled programme in the 2020 budget.
‘’Okoro lied in his letter because no director ever sent Nunieh a minute, (minute contain records of what is done at meetings and not personal opinions). He did not name the directors who he claimed wrote the memo and minute because no director wrote any memo to Nunieh advising her not to pay for any ‘programme’ nor did any director advise her to include any ‘programme’ in the 2020 budget.
‘’The contract mentioned in the Committee’s Report for the payment of N1.96 billion, had nothing to do with any NDDC programme but a contract paid for by the EIMC on April 15, 2020. In Paragraph 3, he accused Nunieh of disobeying the advice of the un-named directors claiming that she went ‘against established due process principles and practice. This sounds like the so-called case of ‘insubordination’ raised by Sen. Akpabio against Nunieh.
‘’He also did not state the exact due process principles and practice he was referring to. He also failed to state who Nunieh directed to make the said payment of the sum of N1.96 Billion, and the name of the person who was paid the money for the programme.
‘’He was therefore intentionally economical with the details of the real contract for which the EIMC indicted and asked to refund the sum of N1.96 billion because he was not bold enough to write in his letter that the Committee indicted Nunieh. Instead, he chose to demand Nunieh to pay the sum of N1.96 billion, to the NDDC Account in accordance ‘with the Committee’s Recommendation’, which does mean anything.
‘’In paragraph 5, he demanded that Nunieh should pay in the sum of N1.96 billion into the NDDC’s Account within 7 days of his letter, which is dated July 28, 2020, but which was published online 11 days after, on August 8, 2020.’’
Continuing, Mrs. Lebari said, ‘’in times past, we would have chosen to ignore the letter and remain silent in the face of this apparent provocation, but based on our experiences and knowledge of the grand conspiracy against Nunieh, as recently witnessed by Nigerians in this real-life case of ‘corruption fighting back’, we are once again pushed to speak out publicly as we observe this display of arrogance corrosive power play the most corrupt individual in our political history.’’
According to her, the letter was intentionally published to instigate and/or mislead the general public into believing that Nunieh was indicted by the Senate Adhoc Committee on Investigation of the Alleged Financial Recklessness in NDDC for misappropriation of funds.
‘’During the four months tenure of Nunieh, she blocked all leakages in her determination to reposition NDDC in the interest of the people of the Niger Delta, as confirmed on page 34, point 4, of the Committee’s Report, by Joe Adia who is the Chairman of the NDDC Contractors Association.
‘’This has also been confirmed by Sen. Godswill Akpabio on Arise Television, on July 12, 2020, (where he had no choice, but to publicly declare to Nigerians) that Nunieh is not corrupt and she has no case of corruption against her.
‘’It is obvious that Okoro rushed to post the said letter online, instead of delivering a copy to Nunieh because the Senate Committee Report which indicted the present EIMC was released. The Senate Committee did not indict Nunieh, instead they indicted the Prof Pondei led EIMC for the fictitious and back-dated contract awarded for the 2nd supply of Lassa fever Personal Protection kits for 185 LGAs, which was paid for by the EIMC on April 15, 2020, during the COVID-19 Lockdown two months after the removal of Nunieh and several other fraudulent contracts awarded and paid for by them.
‘’It is on record that Nunieh did not award a single contract throughout her four months tenure as MD because, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) had in its letter dated, November 8, 2019, queried the NDDC for the award of indiscriminate emergency contracts.
‘’The committee stated in its report the reasons why they recommended the EIMC to make the refund of a total of N4.93 billion, to the Federation Account. Nowhere in the 121-page Report, did the committee indict or recommend Nunieh to refund a single Kobo to the Federation account.
‘’The Committee in Section 513, paragraph 2 of its Report, in relying on the false testimony of Dr.Cairo Ojougbo (Acting EDP) who made reference to a fictitious and unexecuted, fraudulently back-dated 2nd Lassa Fever Personal Protective Kits Contract paid for on April 15, 2020, which the Pondei led EIMC failed to prove that they were delivered to any of the 185 LGAs in the Niger Delta.
‘’The committee in paragraph 51 of its Report expressed concern that Dr. Cairo Ojougbo verbally told the Committee that NDDC staff were used and paid as contractors, for the purported distribution of the kits to undisclosed 185 LGAs. The committee stated that they were not convinced that kits got to the end users because, the EIMC failed to provide any verifiable evidence of proof of delivery of the kits to the end-users as claimed by them.
‘’The committee expressly stated that, the NDDC staff purportedly used by the EIMC for the distribution of the kits namely: (a)Affiong Ekong (paid N36.75 million), (b) Adebayo Adetimehin (paid N18.33 million), (c)Abraham Derefaka (N5.97 million) were actually proxies who were paid huge sums of money in pretext of distributing the kits to the 185 LGAs and that the N1.895 billion said to have been paid for the procurement of the said Kits by the EIMC and the N61.07 million paid for the distribution of the kits and logistics to their proxies (total N1.96 Billion) could not be accounted for by the EIMC.
‘’Meanwhile, the Nunieh led IMC distributed the 1st Lassa Fever Personal Protective Kits FREE OF CHARGE to the various states and no staff of the NDDC was used as delivery contractors. All deliveries were made at no cost to the NDDC.
‘’The Committee further held that the risk inherent with the use of staff as logistic contractors by the EIMC is considered enormous, as the EIMC could not guarantee the delivery of the items to the end users in any of the 185 LGAs and they could not present any verifiable proof of the delivery of the items to the end users.
‘’The committee was also not presented with any concrete reason why the EIMC engaged none staff as logistic contractors. This is an example of the audacious abuse of process principle and practices going on presently at the NDDC. It has never happened in the history of our great country Nigeria that staff of any MDA or ministry are officially paid as contractors.
‘’On page 117 of its report, the committee recommended that the EIMC should refund the sum of N1.96 billion, being part of the total sum of N4.923 billion, (covering 6 items) to the Federation Account. Nowhere in the report did the Committee recommend that, Nunieh should refund the sum of N1.96 billion paid for the 2nd contract which was fraudulently back-dated by the EIMC to seem like it was awarded during the tenure of Nunieh which ended on February 16, 2020.
‘’During the hearing, the EIMC lied to the Committee that Nunieh awarded the 2nd Lassa Fever Personal Protection Kits Contract, which is shamefully untrue but luckily, documentarily evidence of all payments made by the Nunieh led IMC and the Pondei led EIMC showed that the Pondei led EIMC paid the said sum N1.895 billion as the contract sum for the procurement of the 2nd set of Lassa Fever Personal Protection Kits Contract for purportedly procured for the 185 LGAs of the Niger Delta, and the sum of N61.07 million purportedly paid by staff (proxies) for the delivery and logistics paid by the EIMC during the COVID-19 Lockdown on April 15, 2020, (two months after she was removed from office)’’, she says.
The rest of her testimony goes thus:
‘’We are very happy that the EIMC is now ready to comply with the recommendations made by the Senate committee to refund all monies stolen from the coffers of the NDDC for fraudulent contracts, which includes the said contract, sum of N1.96 billion paid by the EIMC for the fictitious unexecuted contract, for which they failed to provide a single name of at least one out of the 185 LGAs or a name of one Chairman of LGA (whom the kits were purportedly handed over to), or at least one hospital in any of the LGA where they delivered the Kits to.
‘’Nigerians can now see that the 2nd Lassa Fever Kits fictitious Contract awarded and paid for by the EIMC on April 15, 2020, was awarded as a conduit to steal the said N1.96 billion with no intention to execute, because the kits procured by Brambaifa which were paid for and donated to the various State Governments are not exhausted.
‘’All Lassa Fever Fever cases in Delta, Edo and Ondo states have been contained and there are no more reported cases of Lassa Fever in the Niger Delta States since the removal of Nunieh. This is a confirmation of the allegation made by Nunieh at the Committee hearing against Sen. Akpabio, that he pressurised her to award the same kind of fictitious emergency contract for relief materials and medical Products for the 2019, flood victims.
‘’He (Sen. Akpabio) insisted that the proposed fictitious flood material contract would not be executed but the money (N5 billion) will be paid to fake contractors who would share the money to himself and the IMC members. All documents relating to the proposed contract was prepared by Dr. Cairo Ojougbo (EDP).
‘’As a credible Nigerian, and a founding member of the anti-corruption ideological and political movement called The Buhari Organisation (TBO) Nunieh bluntly refused to obey his directive to award a fraudulent and fictitious N5 billion contract. This was one of the reasons why she was removed for ‘insubordination’.
‘’After checking with the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) the committee concluded that the procurement of the 2nd contract awarded for the procurement Personal Protective and Lassa Fever Kit contract paid for on April 15, 2020, by the EIMC did not pass through the procurement process, therefore, the monies paid by the EIMC must be refunded. This recommendation had nothing to do with Nunieh.
The committee on page 117 further recommended that the EIMC should refund the following sums of money under the “Refund of Extra Budgetary Expenditure”: N85.7 million, purportedly paid for overseas travel to EIMC members during the Covid19 lockdown, N105.5 million, purportedly paid for non-existent Scholarship grants, N164.2 million, purportedly paid to the NDDC Staff Union members for, a journey to Italy, during the Covid19 lockdown
‘’N1.12 billion, purportedly paid for public communication activities during the Covid19 lockdown for which the EIMC failed to provide evidence of places where the campaigns took place, N1.49 billion, purportedly paid for Covid19 relief materials which was not procured, and N1.96 billion, purportedly paid for the Lassa Fever Personal Protection Kits meant for the 185 LGAs which the EIMC failed to provide evidence that were procured and delivered.
‘’The committee also recommended that apart from the 6 items to be paid by the EIMC they are also to refund the sum of N143.55m paid by them to 5 other Staff of PRS/MIS Department of the NDDC as ‘Advance for the 2020 budget Participatory Conference’ which the EIMC failed to prove that it held.
‘’We hereby alert all Niger Deltans that the EIMC audacious made more extra-budgetary payments of over N24.2 billion, between May 28 and July 28 2020. We once again challenge the EIMC and Sen. Akpabio to show Nigerians, evidence that the Forensic Audit exercise has started. Our position that the Forensic Audit has not started, remains uncontroverted till this day, as the Federal Executive Council (FEC) HAS NOT approved the procurement of the Forensic Auditors because the Due Process Certificate of No Objection issued by the BPP to the NDDC, is predicated on the 2020 Appropriation Budget year.
‘’The EIMC shamefully could not even defend its own 2020 budget before the National Assembly before they went on recess. Therefore, since the 2020 budget has not been approved by the National Assembly, FEC has not approved the procurement of 9 underlisted Forensic Auditors recommended by Sen. Akpabio in accordance with the Public Procurement Act 2007: Ema and Young, G.E Osagie and Co, Sunny Okon and Co, Abuchi E.O. Ogbeji and Co, Alliance consulting and Digital solutions, Sada Idris and Co, E. Field Associates Services, Discovery Cycle Professionals, and BBC Professions
‘’Nigerians will recall that Dr. Cairo Ojougbo told the National Assembly Committee that 4 of the 9 above named Forensic Auditors are Internationally Acclaimed Auditors. Res IpsaLoquito. We join all Nigerians in demanding for the immediate refund of all monies purportedly paid by the EIMC to Youths and Chiefs (in all 185 LGAs) for the project identification exercise with the none existent Forensic Auditors which Pondei claimed to have paid for whilst giving evidence before the House of Representative Committee.
‘’This is another fraudulent payment made by the EIMC because, the NDDC has a database of all projects awarded since the establishment of the NDDC in 2000. The list and location of all projects in different states are in the 9 state offices, so there is no need to pay billions of Naira to unidentified persons to help the NDDC and none existent Forensic Auditors identified NDDC project sites. Afterall, booklets containing the list of all projects, their locations and cost of projects were handed over to the various state governments by Nunieh.
Nunieh joins Mr. President and the good people of Nigeria to appeal to the EIMC to pay the fees of all 2019 beneficiaries of the NDDC scholarship, which she approved for payment before her removal as our students are suffering abroad.
‘’She approved a new NDDC scholarship model which will take effect with the next batch of the 2020 beneficiaries. The beneficiaries will be one student per ward from the 185 Local Government Areas in the Niger Delta States.
‘’All first-class graduates are to get automatic scholarships. The beneficiaries are to be identified by the Community Development Committees (CDC), and the Scholarships are for Nigerian Universities, except in special the cases where the courses are not offered in any Nigerian University.’’