By Emmanuel Addeh
A Niger Delta group, the Global Forum For Accountability and Transparency (GFAT), has described as ‘suspicious’ the refusal of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to allow the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) participate in the forensic audit ordered by the federal government.
The group stated that despite the excitement that greeted the decision to carry out the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the move was a mere ruse to deceive President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a statement signed by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Joseph Tamara, the Niger Delta group alleged that the forensic audit was designed to further ruin the commission.
According to the group, while the probe was not bad in itself, what is obvious is that those who were appointed to carry out the investigation, are people with interests in the matter.
“It is also on record that the ministry kicked against the inclusion of the NFIU in this auditing process, which would have given some semblance of acceptability to the outcome and final report.
” The reason they kicked against the inclusion of the NFIU is only known to them.
“What is presently playing out in the NDDC is a forensic audit which outcome is already pre-determined.
“One of such is to give a clean bill of health to the many companies that are at the behest of top officers in the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, companies that have been enmeshed in receiving scandalous payments for unexecuted contracts”the group said.
t posited that all those involved in the forensic audit drama, cashed in on the anti-corruption stance of the president to sell the dummy.
It insisted that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs as presently constituted does not have the strong will to midwife genuine audit of the activities of the commission since it was created.
The group maintained that powerful Nigerians and other highly connected Nigerians, were involved in the sleaze that bedevilled the commission.
It maintained that there is more prospect in the senate probe than the much advertised forensic audit.
According to the group, most elections in Nigeria were sponsored with NDDC funds and those behind the diversion of the funds are highly connected in government and will manipulate the purported forensic audit.
“It is saddening that the federal government could buy into such cheap plot as the forensic audit, it is a sham created to give cover for another set of criminals to continue fleecing the commission, while the Niger Delta region will continue to suffer neglect” it said.
It submitted that: “the forensic audit will only indict companies and individuals the new cabal wants to dispense with and become fully entrenched thereafter”, adding that the President must be made aware of this.
“Any forensic audit on a public institution as we know must have terms of reference. The Auditor General of Federation has a role to play, but in the case of the NDDC, we have not seen any of such terms of reference and the Auditor General of the Federation is completely shut out.
“On the other hand we did not see where the advertisements were made for selecting the auditing firm as there was no thorough selection process. As the saying goes he who pays the piper dictates the tune is what we are seeing.
“Key staff of the commission who would have been helpful in this audit have been sent packing. Never have we seen where staff would be relieved of their services because of forensic audit” the group said.