Activists urge anti-graft agencies, police to probe NDDC contracts
Niger Delta activists have called on the anti-corruption agencies and the police to investigate the alleged siphoning of funds from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) through contracts.
NDDC’s current state of quagmire and indebtedness to the tune of N2 trillion has been blamed on alleged fraud committed through phoney contracts, including clearing of water hyacinths, emergency jobs and river de-silting.
An environmental activist, Hosanna Jalogho-Williams, in a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Inspector General of Police (IGP), alleged that the said contracts were used by those at the NDDC helm of affairs and their cohorts to steal funds meant for improving the people’s livelihood.
Jalogho-Williams claimed that none of the contracts, from the award process to the payment of billions of naira, followed the regulations and approved threshold stipulated by the Bureau of Public Procurements (BPP), as they could not be verified.
“These phoney contracts are awarded without specifying an amount or contract sum, and at the point of payment, the executives in charge cook up any amount they deem fit,” he said, adding that the contract sums were paid to their cronies within days of their concoction.
He described the situation as “so horrible that the well-intentioned forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari” to investigate and prosecute the looters of NDDC’s resources become a ruse.
According to him, with the appointment of Godswill Akpabio as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the subsequent handover of the NDDC to his ministry for supervision, many had thought that the celebrated forensic audit ordered by the president would end the looting through phoney contracts, but to no avail.
Similarly, National President of Transparency and Accountability Advancement Group, Godknows Sotonye, has raised the alarm over the purported award of two contracts at over N10 billion to two companies for the supply of medical equipment by the NDDC.
Sotonye alleged that the first contract valued at N4.8 billion was awarded under the heading ‘Award of Contract for the Emergency Supply and Delivery of Medical Equipment and Consumables to the NDDC Warehouse, Oroworukwu in Port Harcourt’.
The second contract with reference number NDDC/MD/HPU/20/4/EHSS/05 worth N5,474,647,125 was allegedly for the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers and COVID-19 awareness campaign in the Niger Delta states.
Dismissing the allegations, the Director, Corporate Affairs of NDDC, Charles Odili, said there had been an upsurge in attacks on NDDC and the minister of the Niger Delta Affairs since the launch of a forensic audit into the affairs of the commission.
“These attacks are meant to distract the commission from the task of holding those who loot our commonwealth to account. The minister and the Interim Management Committee (IMC) are determined to see through this audit,” he said.
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