…Fingers Akpabio in crisis
…I deleted Akpabio’s number for fuelling the Crisis, I don’t have the number of IMC Acting MD, Nwaoboshi
…Ongoing forensic audit would reveal those who have plundered the NDDC – Akpabio
By Henry Umoru
THE Senate has taken a swipe at the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC over moves by the agency to stop the National Assembly from probing alleged N40billion misappropriated within the last three months, saying that no amount of blackmail or intimidation would stop the investigation.
According to the Senate, rather than engage in insinuations and accusations, the Interim Management Committee of NDDC should submit itself before the Ad-hoc Committee with a view to clearing its name of the allegations levelled against it by Nigerians, just as it said that the Ad-hoc Committee has already commenced its assignment as letters have been written to the agency to make available some documents.
Reacting to witch hunting allegations leveled against the Senate and the House of Representatives on account of separate investigations being carried out on the N40billion scam by IMC, the Senate said that it was an indictment on the Federal Government for an agency of government to raise the alarm that the NDDC has been operating without a budget.
Addressing Journalists yesterday in Abuja on the crisis, Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta North stressed that all allegations leveled against the National Assembly by the Acting Managing Director of the Commission , Kemebradikumo Pondei and the ones personally directed at him by the Executive Director, Project , Dr Cairo Ojougboh were baseless, unfounded and mere fabrications.
According to Nwaoboshi who spoke with Journalists in his office, the ongoing probe exercise on finances of the Commission by both Chambers of the National Assembly however triggered what he described as the open media attacks against the National Assembly by the IMC.
Nwaoboshi has however fingered the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio as being the mastermind of the lingering quargmire between the National Assembly and the NDDC.
Recall that the Acting Managing Director of NDDC had on Tuesday in Port Harcourt alleged amongst others that the National Assembly inserted over 500 projects into the 2019 budget of the agency and also arm twisting the IMC from carrying out forensic audit as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ojougboh had also alleged among others that some Senators got over 1000 contracts from the NDDC.
Pondei who further claimed that the “overbearing stranglehold” of the National Assembly panels was responsible for the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget in March 2020, said that the reason the NDDC applied to the National Assembly for the virement of its 2019 budget was “because the commission only got the letter of approval of the budget on March 20, 2020, after the NDDC was coerced by some lawmakers to pay 20 contractors.”
Speaking further, Senator Nwaoboshi said : ” We are responding to the allegations of the IMC to correct the misrepresentation. If they claim that some 1000 jobs were given to any Senator, we challenge the IMC members to compile the list of this contracts and publish them.
“Also, the EFCC, Police or ICPC should be reached to investigate those claims instead of blackmailing anybody.”
Senator Nwaoboshi who vowed that both the Senate and the House of Representatives Committees would forge ahead with their separate investigations, said : ” What we are seeing is a case of a man sent to catch the thief but instead of catching the thief, he starts stealing too.
“If members of the IMC know that their hands are clean, they don’t need to panick or resort to blackmail which would not in any way deter the already mandated investigative committees of the National Assembly from carrying out their legitimate assignments.
“Their lies have short legs and unfortunately cannot run fast or fly . IMC must be ready to submit itself for thorough investigation by committees already assigned for that by both Chambers of the National Assembly.
“The allegations of balkanisation of budget just came because the IMC members were asked to appear before the Adhoc-committee to answer questions.
“The National Assembly has the right to appropriate and carry out oversight functions on the Niger Delta Ministry, and the NDDC. So, no amount of intimidation or blackmail will stop us.”
The Niger Delta Affairs Committee Chairman who explained why the National Assembly refused to treat the request to amend the 2019 budget of the NDDC, said that there was a breach of the procedure for requesting budget amendment or virulent, adding, “If the President sends it, we will consider it. As it stands, there is nothing before the National Assembly.”
Senator Nwaoboshi also disclosed that despite being a former colleague, he had deleted the number of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs , Godswill Akpabio from his phone for allegedly fuelling the crisis between NDDC and the National Assembly.
The Senator disclosed that Akpabio as a member of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs oversighting the NDDC, had in 2017 alone, requested for N500million worth of projects to be captured in the agencies capital votes for the fiscal year and now surreptitiously instigating IMC members of the agency against the National Assembly.
In a swift reaction, Senator Akpabio who responded through his Chief Press Secretary, Aniete Ekong who noted that the ongoing forensic audit would reveal those who have plundered the NDDC, said, “We stand by our earlier position that the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC would reveal those who have plundered the agency and are fighting hard to scuttle the probe to hide their misdeeds.
“We believe leaders should learn to elevate public interest above their personal interest which have plunged the region into the present state of underdevelopment. This has to change.”