A group, Niger Delta Development And Accountability Coalition, has said Nigerians are losing faith in President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft war over his inaction in respect of the revelation of massive corruption in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDCC).
In a statement by its National Chairman, Comrade Johnson Epia, the group said President Buhari cannot afford to remain silent in the face of the ongoing scam at the NDDC, and the Senate Resolutions, adding that “he must do his duty to Nigerians and lead when he has to, which is now.”
The group said: “Based on the revelations of massive fraud, financial recklessness and mismanagement at the NDDC by the Interim Management Committee appointed by Akpabio, the National Assembly (NASS) set up Committees to probe the allegations that billions of naira have been fleeced by the IMC, without following due process.
“What came out of the investigations by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees showed clearly that the IMC had been presiding over a criminal enterprise at the NDDC in the last few months where over N81.5 billion cannot be satisfactorily accounted for.
“Following the submission of a 122-page report on the investigation by its Adhoc Committee, the Senate adopted the report, including wide-ranging recommendations, which indicted the IMC and demanded that the members refund N4.923 billion naira, demanded the dissolution of the IMC, and the Inauguration of the governing board to run the Commission in compliance with the NDDC Act, among others.
“What baffles Nigerians is that despite the confessions of the IMC at the Public Hearing to mismanaging the NDDC finances, the Senate indictment of the IMC and other Senate resolutions on the NDDC investigation, the president has done nothing with respect to the Senate Resolutions..”
The group said the inaction by the Buhari administration forced some NGOs to submit a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the prosecution of the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio and the IMC members.
While noting that the prosecution of the indicted officials should have been done ordinarily without prompting, the group said, “This position by the NGOs became necessary because of the perception that the federal government seems to be inured to the humongous corruption, financial recklessness and mismanagement allegedly orchestrated by Akpabio and the IMC in the last few months.”
The group further said: “Indeed, it appears that the Buhari administration is looking for any excuse to absolve its own tainted officials of corruption, including sweeping the Senate Report and Resolutions under the carpet. Else, why has the Buhari administration not acted on the embarrassing IMC Corruption at the NDDC? And how is it that Akpabio is even (allegedly) boasting that nothing will be done to him and the IMC, even (allegedly) assuring the members of the IMC to continue in their corruption and profligacy, which they have been doing since the Senate passed its resolutions on July 23.”
It recalled that at the presentation of their case before the EFCC, the Civil Society activists, led by Deji Adeyanju and Omoyele Sowore, alluded to this strange inability of the federal administration to call Akpabio and the IMC to order, even implying that the minister is being permitted do as he wishes because he allegedly bought his seat on the cabinet.
The group said It was sad that the EFCC and the anti-graft agencies had now become bodies that cannot act independently, wondering why it needed a petition on the NDDC before swinging into action, as Sowore and Deji Adeyanju pointed out.
it therefore said President Buhari cannot allow this issue to go unpunished, as its makes a joke of his anti-corruption posture, aside the fact that the corruption in the NDDC had brought more shame to the country.
The group’s statement read: “The Senate Resolution on the NDDC IMC was based on its Committee’s investigation which found out that the IMC led by Acting Managing Director Prof Daniel Keme Pondei and Acting Executive Director Projects Dr Cairo Ojugboh, (allegedly) paid itself billions of naira in special bonuses, which it tagged covid-19 allowances, in addition to (allegedly) collecting hundreds of millions of naira for project inspection, maintenance allowances and billions more in fictitious contracts. The statement by Pondei at the Public Hearing that they had to help themselves to the bonuses further infuriated millions of Nigerians who revolted at the unconscionable greed and avarice of the IMC. This is what Akpabio has brought upon the Development Commission.”
The group said: Mr President must define very clearly if his legacy will be one of comfort with, not contempt for, Corruption. He cannot sit by the side and allow Corruption to thrive in our country, while his officials steal public resources. The President must demand the refund of all stolen funds, the sack of the IMC, the prosecution of Akpabio and all those indicted by the Senate…. He should bring accountability to the NDDC by implementing the Senate resolutions.”