Fred Itua and Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has begun investigation into alleged financial misdeed by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio and acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei.
A source at EFCC confirmed the development saying the agency in a letter addressed to a group, Foundation for True Freedom and Good Governance, had given indication of the probe, but decried the leakage of the letter to the public.
The civil society group led by an activist, Deji Adeyanju, had asked the EFCC to investigate Akpabio and Pondei over allegations of corruption at the NDDC.
“We write to acknowledge the receipt of your petition dated August 3, 2020 in respect of the above subject and to inform you that investigation into the case has commenced. In view of the above, you are kindly requested to attend an interview with the undersigned through the O/C team six on Thursday, August 20, 2020 at EFCC headquarters third floor,” the EFCC said in the letter signed by its Head of Economic Governance Section, Adebayo Adeniyi.
The EFCC source accused Adeyanju of leaking the letter to the media.
“What he has done is a big problem for us. We don’t usually disclose anything when we are carrying out any investigation. Adeyanju was only invited to give more information. What he has done will likely sabotage our investigation,” he said.
Akpabio and Pondei have been under fire since June over allegation of over N86 billion contract fraud. Both are being investigated by the Senate and House of Representatives.
Pondei fainted while he was being grilled by a House of representatives panel in one of the probe sessions.
Meanwhile, Transparency Advocacy for Development Initiative (TADI) has called on President Buhari to dissolve the board of the Commission (NDDC) and suspend Akpabio.
A statement by its Executive Director, Yomi David, said the suspension, dissolution and reconstitution of a new board would entrench transparency and accountability in the agency.
“The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has been suffering immense neglect, and even the East-West road in the Niger Delta region has been abandoned by the ministry. We, therefore, call on the President to suspend the minister and the entire Interim Management Committee of NDDC for gross misconduct, mismanagement, fraud and corruption and to constitute a proper NDDC Board, as well as removing NDDC from the supervision of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.This is in order to reposition the Commission to carry out the mandate of meaningful development of the Niger Delta Region and ensure a lasting peace in the region,”he said.