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NDDC: Why Godswill Akpabio cannot be a judge in his own case

Akpabio, NDDC, Ijaw
Sen. Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs

By ANDREW OSSAI EKE

Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio can pretend, grandstand, bluster and filibuster all he can but surely, as a lawyer, even he must know that he cannot be a judge in his own case.

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Obviously, the same man who asserted that 16 is greater than 19, in the matter of the Nigerian Governors Forum, is intent on introducing into the All Progressives Congress, APC, his People’s Democratic Party, PDP, approach to mathematics.

Akpabio was Governor of Akwa Ibom State for an unbroken two terms from 2007 to 2015 during which period he had the enviable privilege of nominating his cronies, Men Friday, acolytes and close political associates into the board and management of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

Thus, for example, it was Akpabio who nominated one Engr. Esoetok Etteh as Executive Director, Projects, in the commission and later Barr. Dan Abia as Managing Director.

This is quite apart from the fact that all Akwa-Ibom’s Commissioners on the board during his tenure were either nominees or loyalists of his!

Indeed, even the immediate past substantive Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Nkere, was Akpabio’s Deputy Governor and long time close associate!

As envisaged, the detailed forensic audit of the commission, welcomed by all well-meaning Niger Deltans, will cover the period from 2001 to 2019 and thus include long and critical periods during which Akpabio’s handpicked men and political allies ran the NDDC at the very top!

Surely then, unless the much touted forensic audit is really just a huge joke or Mr. President’s genuine intentions are being wickedly subverted and heinously undermined from within by no less than a Minister of the Federal Republic, how can Akpabio of all people be in any moral or indeed legal position to superintend any credible forensic audit over the activities of his nominees and political associates through his handpicked and patently illegal steering committee?

Investigations and court decisions are not concluded or arrived at, as the case may be, by esoteric insight but by means of rational methodology as well as logical and forensic reasoning.

Akpabio’s desperation to micromanage the NDDC and ultimately supervise the forensic audit of the commission can only lead to the unavoidable conclusion that he has something to hide and that his entire intent is to cover the tracks of his nominees while by implication providing cover for further entrenchment of the rot in the commission.

Properly, it is not the newly appointed and confirmed board of the commission, none of whose members was hitherto ever party to the sordid state of the commission, that should step aside for an unhindered audit to take place.

If anything, they are just the right people for the job!

If Mr. President’s own lawful appointees cannot supervise a credible audit, is it Akpabio’s handpicked illegal steering committee that should be able to do so?

Indeed, rather than the new board, it is actually Akpabio, himself, who being a chief interested party, that miserably lacks either the moral authority or legal competence to preside over such a highly important effort through his illegal contraption of a steering committee!

In fact, since as superintending minister, he will end up having ultimate responsibility for the process and its outcome, this long awaited audit simply cannot be carried out with Akpabio as Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, simple!

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Thankfully, Akpabio has won his election case and must now return to the electoral battlefield like the political general he claims to be and reclaim his mandate like a man.

It is time for Akpabio to resign in order not to delay the forensic audit any further.

As for the new board, as a matter of legal imperative, it must resume duties immediately and rescue the commission from the conundrum of Akpabio’s illegal steering committee.

Andrew Ossai Eke: For and on behalf of the Coalition for Truth in Nigeria.

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