By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
An anti corruption group, Act for Positive Transformation Initiative (APTI), has asked for further investigation into the activities of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which it accused of allegedly spending N80 billion on questionable projects in just four months.
It also demanded an inquiry into the recent death of the late Executive Director of Finance and Administration of the NDDC, Ibanga Bassey Etang.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday in Abuja, the Head, Directorate of Research, Strategy and Programmes of APTI, Mr. Kolawole Johnson, said the corruption at the commission was getting worse and required serious interrogation, investigation and immediate action.
“We submit that this whole ploy is meant to jeopardize the ongoing probe of the commission. Our curiosity is further heightened by the slow pace of work by the National Assembly. There must not be any political settlement on the wicked rape of the people’s resources.
“We want to duly and responsibly inform the National Assembly and relevant agencies that the amount under probe should be over N75 billion, not the touted 40 billion naira as the present Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the NDDC has expended over N80 billion in just four months,” he alleged.
The anti corruption group said that aside from the wage bill, all other expenditures of NDDC should be subjected to forensic analysis.
“How do you explain the payment of 13.6 million naira for “consultancy on the construction of infant Jesus?…
“How do you justify N2 billion on acclaimed media spending in just two months? How much has the federal government spent on media? A large part of these payments was meant to block us from the media,” he alleged.
Johnson listed various account details in possession of APTI where various amounts were paid into for questionable transactions.
He said that the group had submitted details of the allegations of corruption in the NDDC to security agencies but that they had failed to act.
“We wonder what the security and anti-corruption agencies are doing despite the documents we have released to the public.
“The 2020 first quarter statistics should start reorganizing our priorities. Our debt to revenue ratio was 99%, meaning 99% of our income went into debt servicing.
“Forget fund for capital projects in that scary situation, ask where salaries and other overhead cost came from. This is the time to block all loopholes. It is time to truly kill corruption else corruption will kill us.
“We cannot be borrowing for some people’s pleasure and greed. Nigeria must work. Niger Delta must work. The people must not be left in the present state of neglect. The President must act now,” he said.
The group urged the Presidential Taskforce on Control of Covid-19 to thoroughly investigate the Covid-19 claims of NDDC officials.
According to Johnson, there was a sinister ploy to weave the unfortunate death of the late finance director around covid-19 in order to achieve ulterior motive.
He said that the Presidential Taskforce on control of Covid-19 should direct the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to publish the test result of the late director in view of the contending issues surrounding it.
He also claimed that from interactions with close family members of the late director, the group learnt that he did not die at the Covid-19 isolation centre or the treatment facility but that his body was wheeled to the Covid-19 wing afterwards.
Johnson said: “The late Executive Director of Finance and Administration died in the early hours of Thursday, May 28th, 2020. Very early in the day, our organization, Act for Positive Transformation Initiative, had intercepted a sinister ploy to weave the unfortunate death around COVID-19. Some newspapers subtly reported this online. By 1pm, we were on a national television where we further warned actors to desist from such satanic plot.
“We also revealed, that the plan involved shutting down NDDC offices, forcing staff to go on isolation and eventually returned with COVID-19 positive status claims in the public”.
Johnson who claimed that his group had kept close tab on the goings on at the NDDC in recent times, said they were ready to assist the PTF in contact tracing of any officials of the commission declared Covid-19 positive.
“We are ready to provide information on where some of them visited to help in contact tracing, besides their immediate communities and families will certainly be of help during investigation.
“To this end, we are calling for immediate investigations of the covid-19 claims of NDDC officials. We call on National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), the ministry of health, the Presidential task Force on COVID-19 and all relevant agencies to immediately investigate NDDC claims and NCDC officials in Rivers State. “We also appeal to Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation who doubles as the head of PTF on COVID-19, to compel NDDC to make available, names of officials they claim are positive,” he said.