NDDC: IMC accepts Senate report, admits guilt in illegal expenditure of N81.5b
Our attention has been drawn to a story in the Vanguard Newspapers of August 8, 2020, titled “NDDC writes Nunieh, demands refund of N1.96bn in 7 days.”
In the said report, the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC, in a letter addressed to Dr Joi Nunieh (former Ag. MD in the IMC), entitled “Demand for the refund of N1.96 billion to the Niger Delta Development Commission”, dated July 28, signed by Peter Claver Okoro Esq., Director Legal Services is, stated as follows, “I have been directed to demand and I do hereby demand that you pay N1.96 billion within seven days of this letter to the account of the Commission in compliance with the order of the Senate of Nigeria.” The letter went further to state that Nunieh “approved payments of the money for Lassa fever kits against established due process principles.”
We note with satisfaction that the imposed, illegal IMC contraption, has by its own official letter admitted its guilt and has accepted the findings of the Senate Adhoc Committee on the allegations of corruption and financial recklessness at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which recommendations were adopted by the Senate in plenary on Thursday July 23, to wit: “that the IMC be disbanded and made to refund the sum of N4.923 billion; that the substantive Governing Board of the NDDC be sworn in to manage the Commission in line with the provisions of the Law; that the NDDC be moved back to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in the Presidency for proper supervision; that the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation supervise the forensic audit to “guarantee independence, credibility, transparency and professionalism in the output of the exercise,” and that “the President with advice from the Auditor General should appoint a renowned, internationally-recognised forensic auditor to carry out the exercise.”
The Professor Keme Pondei – led IMC, by formally writing to Joi Nunieh (former Ag. MD of the IMC up till Feb 2020) to refund N1.96 billion to the account of the Commission “in compliance with the order of the Senate of Nigeria” is not only accepting the Senate Report but is also admitting to its responsibility to refund the balance of N2.963 billion (attributable to the Pondei-led IMC) from the total N4.923 billion, which the Senate directed the IMC to refund to NDDC account. This is clear evidence of admittance of guilt by the Pondei-led IMC.
The admission of guilt by the IMC of NDDC is also not surprising to Niger Deltans (and Nigerians in general) who, during the public hearings by the Committees of National Assembly watched the IMC’s arrogant and brazen admission to financial recklessness and self-gratification.
With the IMC admission of guilt, Niger Deltans and Nigerians cannot afford to have the interim management committee in office any further. This is a point that stakeholders from the region are agreed on.
As is evident to all, Akpabio and his illegal IMC contraption have lost the moral right to preside over the affairs of the NDDC! The authentic voices of the Niger Delta are very clear in our demands, which are:
The IMC is illegal. There is no provision for it in the law establishing the NDDC. The IMC must be disbanded immediately because, as an illegal contraption, it serves no functional purpose in the administration of the NDDC. Rather, it has been exposed as a conduit for stealing the lean resources of the NDDC. The NDDC Governing Board, which is provided for in line with the law, should be put in place immediately to run the affairs of the Commission.
The forensic audit has to be done by a reputable independent auditor, creditably and independently, just as the NNPC audit was done by Price Waterhouse a few years back while the legitimate Board and management was still in place. The board and management of the NNPC were not set aside for an IMC in order to do the audit.
We therefore restate our call on President Muhammadu Buhari, who encouraged the National Assembly to speedily conclude its investigations for him to make a decision, to heed the Senate resolutions.
Additionally, President Muhammadu Buhari admitted to wrongdoing by the Interim Management Committee at the Niger Delta Development Commission, when he was recently asked what he thought of the ongoing revelations of corruption at the EFCC and NDDC, stating that some of his appointees have abused trust by misusing their offices for their self-aggrandisement.
We therefore request the President to match his words with action because mere acknowledgement of wrongdoing does not address the ongoing corruption at the Commission. By delaying action, the President emboldens the Niger Delta Minister, Chief Godswill Akpabio, and the IMC to continue the pillage of the NDDC.
It is even more disturbing that despite the Senate report on the misuse of N81.5 billion in just a few months, Senator Akpabio and the IMC are not letting up in their financial recklessness, as whistleblowers have discovered fresh alleged self-serving payments that have been made by the IMC.
The members of the IMC should toe the path of honour and voluntarily disengage from the NDDC because they have serially abused public trust, even by their own admittance of guilt in finally accepting the Senate Report which demanded that they refund N4.923 billion to NDDC.
Failing to bow out voluntarily, we demand that the illegal IMC should be sacked immediately because delayed action by the President gives the IMC officials who have abused public trust more time to commit further infractions as the National Assembly has already established cases of financial recklessness, abuse of due process and mismanagement against them.
Finally, we call on President Buhari to put a stop to the ongoing corruption at the NDDC by disbanding the IMC and inaugurating the Governing Board to restore probity at the Commission. We also agree with the recommendation that the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation should supervise the forensic audit to “guarantee independence, credibility, transparency and professionalism in the output of the exercise,” and that “the President with advice from the Auditor General should appoint a renowned, internationally-recognised forensic auditor to carry out the exercise.” Additionally, the N4.923 billion looted by the officials of the IMC should be immediately recovered from them by officials of the EFCC and ICPC and paid back into the NDDC’s account.
Comrade Godknows Sotonye is the national coordinator of Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition.
This content is sponsored by Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition.
No comments yet