By Henry Umoru
THE political quagmire between the Senate and the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has taken another twist, as the Senate yesterday fingered the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, in the alleged misappropriation of funds of the Commission over the years.
Recall that the Senate had on May 5, set up a six-member Ad-hoc Committee to probe into alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by IMC of the NDDC.
The Committee Ad-hoc Committee, which has Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Ekiti North as Chairman, will carry out a holistic investigation on all issues relating to but not limited to the alleged misapplication and misappropriation of the sum of N4O billion by the commission and it has four weeks to report back at plenary.
Making available some documents to journalists yesterday (Wednesday) on the alleged involvement of Akpabio in the financial scam, Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, PDP, Delta North alleged that in 2017 alone, Akpabio collected contracts worth N500 million from NDDC without execution and yet cash-backed.
According to him, “in a letter dated August 7, 2017, addressed to the Chairman, Senate Committee on NDDC, Akpabio requested that five projects worth N500 million be added to the budget.
“Akpabio as Minority Leader of the Senate then used his office to include projects not budgeted for in the Appropriation bill.”
The projects as clearly stated in the letter, include, fencing the Federal Polytechnic Ukana, Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District at the cost of N200 million. Fencing of Federal Government College, Ikot Ekpene (Old site) Akwa North-West Senatorial District. Entrepreneurship training on the use of modern farming implement- Youths in Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District at the cost of N75 million.
“Entrepreneurship training on the use of modern farming implement- Women in Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District at the cost of N75 million. Renovation of one hostel facility at the University of Nsukka, Nsukka Campus at the cost of N50 million.
“Findings show that while there was no physical evidence of implementation of these projects, checks show contracts were awarded and fully paid for. Such practices have turned the region to sites of abandoned projects,” Nwaoboshi lamented.
The documents further revealed that similar contracts collections without execution were carried out on NDDC by Akpabio in 2016 and in 2018.