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How NDDC’s interim management may undermine forensic audit

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The Niger Delta Accountability and Development Coalition (NDADC) has warned that recent actions of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC’s) Interim Management Committee (IMC) may undermine its forensic audit as earlier directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a statement by its National Coordinator, Johnson Epia and Secretary, Ekong Etim, the group said it was convinced that measures announced by the IMC to facilitate the audit were fraught with fraud and designed to turn the process into a cash cow for the committee members.

They argued that the recent inauguration of a 50-man contract verification committee was another instance of the IMC’s cluelessness, insisting that it amounted to merry-go-round.

“The committee headed by Acting Executive Director Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, has directors and staff members of the commission. While its business is to call contractors and verify their projects and claims, we are alarmed by recent happenings to believe that the motive behind the committee is anything but objective.

“Our position is informed by the statement of the IMC that the contracts verification committee will screen the contracts in the NDDC member states and submit a report, which the auditors will use as their primary material to audit the commission,” it stated.

The group also said the interim management’s claimed that some contracts were awarded without due process, as records available to show that most of the awards were not backed by budget and had no bills of engineering was disingenuous.
It wondered the essence of a verification exercise when the NDDC already had its own records, which according to the IMC indicated that some of the contracts were spurious.

“This is especially so when it is considered that the people who make up the committee, besides Ojougboh, are employees of the commission who screened, verified and approved the contracts that Ojougboh says are fraudulent and which are now being re-verified!

“What rational outcome can we then expect from this exercise? A proper audit should turn out the commission’s records, as they are, to independent external auditors for investigation. Anything short of that is a public relations stunt, which we do not need, considering the huge sums of money that have been poured into the NDDC,” they said.

NDADC affirmed that by this and other actions, the interim management committee confirms stakeholders’ fears that it does not have the skill set to supervise the forensic audit ordered by President Buhari, if indeed its actions were not part of a preconceived agenda.

“What we want is a full audit of the NDDC since 2001 that will not be stage managed by vested interests masquerading as interventionists,” the statement added.


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