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‘Stop the free looting in NDDC, freeze commission’s accounts now’

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In the last nine months, over 28 professionals have volunteered time, energy, skills, and resources to expose the monumental corruption enduring at the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC). While it is discouraging to suspect that government’s body language appears to be promoting, rewarding and protecting corruption in this case, recent development, notwithstanding, shows truth is gradually prevailing.

Despite the alarms ACT has continued to raise, the spending spree at the Commission has remained unabated. Today, again, we inform the Government and all relevant stakeholders, that, we have uncovered another plan by the commission to make some fraudulent secret payments this week that will further set the commission aback. This same alarm was raised in June 2020 via a letter to the leadership of the National Assembly that was made public, about 20 Billion Naira was carted away barely one month thereafter (as at July 28th), including payments on desilting against the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, largely due to poor response to the alarm raised. The details were given in our letter to the President on August 5th, which was released as a briefing for that month.

The commission has gone ahead to squander additional 9 Billion Naira thereafter, in the last one month. This includes reckless spendthrift of 5.8 Billion Naira on fraudulent emergency desilting on the 29th of July, 2020, alone when the nation was on holidays. They were so in a hurry that they moved out same amount purportedly for different locations and different scopes of job. i.e Emergency clearing and desilting of Ipinle Ajenrela creek, Igbokoda (lot 3) –N634,761,500.00 (Six Hundred and Thirty-Four Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty One Thousand, Five Hundred Thousand Naira), Emergency clearing and desilting of Akaibiri creek, Yenagoa – 634,761,500.00 ( Six Hundred and Thirty-Four Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty One Thousand, Five Hundred Thousand Naira), Emergency clearing and desilting of Ilar Creek, Igbokoda (lot 2) – 634,761,500.00 ( Six Hundred and Thirty-Four Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty One Thousand, Five Hundred Thousand Naira), Emergency clearing and desilting of Temetan Creek, Igbokoda (Lot 1) – 634,761,500.00 ( Six Hundred and Thirty-Four Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty One Thousand, Five Hundred Thousand Naira).

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Others include Emergency clearing and desilting of blocked canal from Ilaje High School Naval Base fishing Terminal, Igbokoda (Lot1) – 634,761,500.00 ( Six Hundred and Thirty-Four Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty One Thousand, Five Hundred Thousand Naira), Emergency clearing and desilting of Yewa Creek, Okitipupa (Lot1) – 634,761,500.00 (Six Hundred and Thirty Four Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty One Thousand, Five Hundred Thousand Naira), Emergency clearing and desilting of Ipinle Koforawe Creek, Igbokoda (lot 2) –N634,761,500.00 (Six Hundred and Thirty Four Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty One Thousand, Five Hundred Thousand Naira). The last on the roll on that same day: Urgent clear desilting of blocked sections of Ibelebiri waterways, Ogbia (lot 2) – 739,071,500.00 (Seven Hundred and Thirty-Nine Million, Seventy-One Thousand and Five Hundred Naira). Details of all the companies that served as conduit for these payments are readily available. The movement of same disbursements was also not out of traces.

Despite the outcry against the “1.5 Billion Naira Palliative to take care of themselves”, the commission abused the nation further by paying self another 340 Million Naira (Three Hundred and Forty Million Naira) on self for “EMERGENCY INTERVENTION AGAINST THE SPREAD OF CORONA VIRUS AMONG COMMISSION’S WORKFORCE” on the 8th of August.. Every staff or appointee of the commission that received the money into their private accounts should be made to refund. They are: Okpozo Edgar (23.6 Million), Akopunwane Stanley (23.6 Million), Fobruku Monica (23.6 Million), Oputa Philomena (23.6 Million). Others are Akpabio Idara (20.96 Million), Margaretr Ala (20.96 Million) Okezie Irene (20.96 Million). Also, Ironbar Linda (20.06 Million), Bello Mary (20.06 Million), Chidinma Lily (20.06 Million), Agala Asela (20.06 Million), Ojigbare Nancy (20.06 Million), Umezuruke Anthony (20.06 Million), Imoni Ahuna (20.06 Million), Anako Ajumoke (12.91 Million). A senior director in the commission, who was recently led to the bank to refund his share of the scholarship fund surreptitiously looted, also received 25 Million into his private account from the above emergency COVID-19 largesse.

Many other fraudulent payments were made in the month of August under review, including additional payment of 123 Million Naira to Julius Dinga Ltd, on the 18th of August, bringing the total payment on this singular contract scam to 624 Million Naira to the same company. The monumental fraud ongoing in the commission is being supervised by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.

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A look at the nominal roll of the commission confirms the alarm on secret employment ongoing in the commission. The management recently employed over 50 contract staff without following civil service rules and guidelines. Some of these new intakes lacking required skills or experience were placed as assistant director without competence test or needs assessment.

We call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly and genuine security and anti-corruption agency to immediately freeze the accounts of the commission and apprehend everyone involved in the continuous scandalous pillaging of the agency’s treasury.

It gladdens the heart to note that some of the commission’s officials are already refunding part of their loot to government’s coffer. The Presidency also pre-emptively disowned the commission’s management over the latter’s impunity in extra-budgetary spending yet ongoing. However, decisive steps must be taken urgently to end the audacious and unprecedented looting under a government that professes to be fighting corruption. After all, we all bear the consequences of the despicable actions of officials in government.

This a text of the press briefing by  Kolawole Johnson,  head, Directorate of Research, Strategy & Programme, Kolawole Johnson on behalf of Act For Positive Transformation Initiative.

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