HURIWA to Buhari: NDDC, National Assembly stinks of corruption
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has lamented that the stench of corruption massively felt in the National Assembly and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is so staggering that Nigeria may need to set up an independent judicial commission of inquiry to investigate allegations and counter allegations of large scale heist of public fund.
“Until the so called investigators at the National Assembly and the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission are investigated to ascertain the veracity and validity of the accusations of huge scale corruption levelled by both against each other, it will be time wasting to allow neither of the tainted and heavily discredited bodies to proceed to investigate each other because it is ethically unjust for someone to be a judge and a prosecutor in his own case and the legal maxim that to go to equity it is imperative to do so with clean hands applies here, ” it said.
HURIWA has also called for the disbandment of both the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC overseeing the committees in both chambers of the National Assembly to enable any form of forensic audits of the interventionist commission in the heavily neglected crude oil producing states of the Niger Delta Region and the accusations of bribery and financial inducements levelled against the National Assembly by the Interim Management Committee of the Commission to be holistically investigated and the indicted persons arrested, prosecuted and punished by the competent Court of law.
The rights group added that every naira siphoned away from the Niger Delta Development Commission by either the discredited Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission or the discredited Committees on Niger Delta Development Commission at the two chambers of the National Assembly should be retrieved and returned to the coffers of the Commission for the purpose of infrastructural development and transformations of the marginalized crude oil producing states belonging to the NDDC catchment areas.
HURIWA in a statement signed on Thursday in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf said that as it is at the moment, the media warfare going on by both the IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission and the National Assembly’s Committees on Niger Delta Development Commission has made it imperative that all parties in the show of shame must be suspended pending an outcome of a wholly independent investigation by a credible platform such as a high profile judicial commission of inquiry to be headed by a respected Jurist of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and other representatives of the Civil society, the academia, the security/Defence Sector.
“A situation whereby there is a free for all full scale media battles by these warring parties drawn from the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission and the relevant committees of the Niger Delta Development Commission in the National Assembly, there will never be a credible investigations of either the NDDC by the so called Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission put in place by the President for the purposes of carrying out forensic audits of the commission or the relevant committees of the National Assembly which has launched a separate probe of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission over allegations of theft of N40 billion,” HURIWA stressed.
HURIWA recalled that only this morning, the Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, had accused the committees of the National Assembly responsible for the oversight of the Commission of working against the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
HURIWA quoted Mr. Pondei as alleging that the probe being embarked on by the National Assembly was distracting the Commission from focusing on the forensic audit, which all stakeholders, including Governors of the nine Niger Delta States, agreed with President Buhari as the way forward for the Commission.
“HURIWA has just read the embattled Acting Managing Director of NDDC of saying thus:”We suspect that the probe being trumpeted by the National Assembly is not for altruistic reason, but an attempt by some members to armtwist the Interim Management Committee.We have faced so much pressure from some members of the National Assembly not to send certain files to forensic auditors. We fear that this will compromise the integrity of the exercise and have refused to do their bidding.We have also faced pressure from some members of the National Assembly to pay for 132 jobs, which have no proof of execution. We have refused to pay out N6.4 billion for those jobs. We believe that an IMC set up as a cleansing structure cannot become part of the old story of the rots”.
HURIWA however recalled that the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission also got bashed by the National for fraud of over N40 billion within two months of its existence just as the Senate wednesday insisted on going ahead with the probe of the alleged N40 billion fraud at the Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC) despite moves being made by the agency to stop the National Assembly from probing the alleged fund misappropriation by the management between January and March.
HURIWA also recalled that while insisting on probing the financial transactions in the IMC, Peter Nwaoboshi, the Senate committee on NDDC said: “What we are seeing is a case of a man sent to catch the thief but instead of catching the thief, he starts stealing too. The National Assembly simply set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate allegations of stealing by the NDDC IMC.
“Why not allow the adhoc-committee conclude the investigation? The allegations of balkanisation of budget just came because the IMC members were asked to appear before the Ad-hoc committee to answer questions”.
HURIWA therefore dismissed both warring parties as sinking ships that stink of massive corruption which would be difficult for any of the tainted parties to investigate each other with any degree of integrity or credibility which according to the rights group is the imperative call and need for the immediate constitution jointly by the President Muhammadu Buhari and the hierarchy of the National Assembly of a 7 member powerful but independent Judicial Investigative commission to look at the accusations of corruption and fraud in both the IMC of the Commission and the relevant committees of the two chambers of the National Assembly on Niger Delta Development Commission.
HURIWA stated that under this current war-like atmosphere, it is difficult to ascertain who is wring or right but the best way to go about it is to disband all the tainted parties so a separate judicial inquest is organised to look at the accusations and Counter allegations of large scale misapplication of public fund running into several billions of Naira.