Fred Itua, Abuja and Tony John, Port Harcourt
Leaders of the Niger Delta region, under the aegis of Niger Delta Forum for Equity and Justice, have raised the alarm over renewed efforts by some members of the National Assembly to truncate the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The leaders described the move by the National Assembly to institute multiple probes into the finances of the NDDC as a distraction to ongoing efforts to sanitise the NDDC as envisioned by President Buhari.
The Senate has instituted a probe on how N40billion was spent by the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC in three months, while the House of Representatives is attempting to conduct a parallel audit of the agency.
National Coordinator of Niger Delta Forum for Equity and Justice, Kenneth Adagogo who flayed the move by the federal legislators said: “We are greatly dismayed by current moves by the National Assembly to frustrate the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC.
How can the National Assembly describe the forensic audit instituted by the President at the behest of all governors of the Niger Delta States as illegal? How can an exercise which was duly debated and approved by the Federal Executive Council with money appropriated for the exercise by the same National Assembly be described as illegal?
“We are left with no option than to believe allegations making the rounds that the present moves by the National Assembly is at the behest of some of their powerful members who have had their hands soiled in the looting of the commission over the years and would do everything within their powers to frustrate the effort of President Buhari to cleanse the interventionist agency.
“The people of the Niger Delta region require the development of their oil-rich region. Sadly, some members of the National Assembly who are from the region have through contract racketeering used the commission to move their bank accounts forward instead of moving the region forward.
“This is the mess that the present Interim Management Committee of NDDC led by Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei as mandated by President Buhari is trying to clean. We are appalled that rather than support this noble effort, some members of the National Assembly have constituted themselves as clogs in the wheel of progress of the region.
“If the National Assembly means well, they should probe the recent allegations that their committee chairmen in the persons of Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo balkanised the budgets of the commission for their personal benefits. They should also probe their members who collect commissions for statutory payments to the commission,” Adagogo said.
Meanwhile, Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, has denied instructing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
According to Omo-Agege, a letter said to have emanated from the Clerk of the Senate, acting on his behalf and requesting the acting chairman of the anti-graft agency, Ibrahim Magu to investigate the Minister, did not come from him.
Describing the document as fake, the Deputy President of the Senate insisted that he never instructed the Clerk or any other person to contact the EFCC to investigate any individual.
But, a coalition of Niger Delta groups has given 14-day ultimatum to the leadership of NASS to withdraw their planned probe.The resolution was taken at the weekend by the joint executive council of the Niger Delta Elements Progressives Union (NIDEPU) and League for the Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta (LSDND), when they met in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Coordinators of the groups, Lawrence Akpeti, NIDEPU; Kingsley Arthur,LSDND; Bassey Ntak,President of Joint Council and Silas Braide,Secretary of Council in the resolution said the proposed probe by NASS was politically motivated.