NDDC: Akpabio fires back at Senate over N40bn ‘scam’

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has faulted the resolution taken by the Senate last Tuesday on alleged misappropriation of N40billion by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) within the last three months.

The Senate had in plenary  Tuesday, resolved to probe alleged financial recklessness perpetrated by IMC running the affairs of the Commission, one of which was the N40billion the interim committee allegedly fleeced within the last three months.

Blueprint recalls that the upper legislative chamber,  consequently set up a Nine-man ad- hoc committee under the chairmanship of Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi (APC Ekiti North), to probe the allegation and report back in four weeks time.

But in a strongly worded statement on Friday , the Niger Delta Affairs Minister , said the allegations upon which the Senate anchored  its resolutions , were unfounded as the IMC has not spent any money close to N40billion since its inauguration.

According to him, only N18billion has so far been approved by the IMC as contractual payments to contractors and not any figure close to the alleged N40 billion.

“IMC since its inception ,  has only approved the total payment of Eighteen Billion Naira (N18, 000,000, 000) for contractual claims. 

“The payments to contractors are all payments for contracts awarded by previous administrations, especially the payment for contracts below N50 million.

“The present management has not awarded any single contract. So where is the bogey N40 billion coming from?” he querried.

He added that such unfounded allegations are handiwork of vested interests, trying to paint the IMC black in covering their tracks as regards pillaging of the commission’s resources  over the years.

He however declared that his Ministry and the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC, are ready to appear before any investigative public hearing on financial transactions of the committee since its inception last year and not just three months being planned for by the Senate.

The IMC he added, will get a clean bill of health from such investigation while ignorance of those making spurious allegations , would be exposed.

The statement entitled: “Re:  National Assembly Probes  Alleged N40billion  Corruption in  NDDC”, dated May 8, 2020, and signed by Anietie Ekong, Chief Press Secretary to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, reads in part: “The attention of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has been drawn to sensational headlines about an alleged N40 billion corruption in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

“We wish to state categorically that under the supervision of Senator Akpabio, there has been no corruption in the NDDC.  

“It is obvious that there have been an upsurge in attacks on the Commission, the Interim Management Committee and the Honourable Minister through spurious and unsubstantiated allegations since the commencement of forensic audit of the Commission.

“Unfortunately, these phantom allegations have found their ways into the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly. 

“Senator Akpabio is upbeat about the plan to probe the NDDC as he has no skeleton in his cupboard. In fact, he will welcome a public hearing beamed live for all Nigerians to see.

“The probe of the Commission along with the ongoing forensic audit will expose those who have used their exalted positions over the years to fleece the NDDC through fully paid contracts which were never executed and other forms of contact racketeering.

“The general public should not be misled by spurious claims. The NDDC under the supervision of Senator Akpabio will not be distracted, neither will the ongoing forensic audit of the Commission be derailed through blackmail and intimidation. 

“The minister will remain focused on the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the Commission for sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.”

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