By Emmanuel Addeh
A Niger Delta group, the Global Forum for Accountability and Transparency, has described as suspicious the intentional shrouding of the identities of the forensic auditors handling investigations into the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC).
The group challenged the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the commission to publish the names of the firms handling the audit for the sake of transparency and accountability.
It insisted that it was not enough for the NDDC to claim that four international auditing firms were involved in the forensic audit without naming the companies.
Led by Joseph Ambakederimo, the group in a statement in Abuja, questioned why the identities of the firms were being shielded, adding that the process adopted in the selection of the auditing firms violated the relevant laws.
“If we may ask what is so sacrosanct that the names of those four companies cannot be made public and why is it only the Nigerian company that is mentioned?
“We did not see the representative of any of the other four companies on the day the documents were purported to have been handed over to the auditors to commence the forensic investigations.
“No name of any such company was mentioned by the Acting Managing Director, yet the Executive Director Project, Cairo Ojougbo, claimed four international reputable companies are engaged to carry out the forensic audit.
“The issue of the selection process of the auditing firm is another matter that borders on abuse of the procurement act as they often do in the NDDC.
“The selection process was not transparent because we just heard from out of the blues that a certain amount of money had been approved by the Federal Executive Council to be paid to a company who’s profile or competence we do not know.
“We have searched all of the internet to see their reference for previous jobs done but nothing of such and we wonder how is this company become an international reputable one to take on the task of such enormous work” the group said.
It argued that the IMC does not have the moral standing to midwife the much talked about forensic audit.
The group said it was suspicious that the IMC did not alert Nigerians at the early stage when all the alleged budget padding was going on behind closed doors, so that it gives Nigerians the opportunity to know those to be held accountable.
“The effort to use blackmail only came when all hell was let loose when the National Assembly showed signs of pushing ahead with the probe which inadvertently made the IMC guilty already” it added.
According to the Niger Delta group, it is only trite that a minority report will be released which the group is ready to do, given the secrecy in the current IMC probe.
“One of the reason we say we are going to issue our own minority report is because we do not have confidence that the auditing firm will do a thorough job because the process is rigged already.
“The confidence on the forensic audit is depressed and the result and the sanctity of it is eroded already. It is therefore incumbent upon all of us, regardless of our tribes, positions or platforms to respond with truth, facts and data in the face of any attempts to confuse and deploy false information about the issues involving the
“We have come to this conclusion because those whose legs and hands are in the till cannot be the same ones to midwife such a serious exercise” the organisation noted.