Niger Delta Minister Dismisses Alleged N480bn Fraud  

Niger Delta Minister Dismisses Alleged N480bn Fraud  

Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, has dismissed as “false and totally baseless” series of allegations of N480 billion fraud made against him by those he described as professional petition writers, declaring that there is no iota of truth in the claim and that no fraud has been committed under his watch in the ministry.

Umana, said despite all efforts by the petitioners and their hired hands to malign his person, the funds associated with projects alleged to have been embezzled have neither been released nor expended on the projects cited in the petitions.

The minister in a statement, issued via email, in response to the petition purportedly tendered before the National Assembly, explained that in line with his directives at the last meeting of the National Council, adjustments had been made in the 2022 budget proposals of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to accommodate core regional infrastructure projects based on a new template for the development of the Niger Delta region.

He said, “It is senseless for the petitioners to allege that the compilation of projects to include in the budget proposals of NDDC for 2022 for transmission to the National Assembly is a crime. Everything is at the proposal stage; no contracts have been awarded and no money has been disbursed or expended.”

He noted that anything to the contrary is false and should be dismissed in its entirety.

The minister equally refuted another allegation in the petition that he sacked 700 workers in the NDDC on assumption of duty as minister.

Umana said he has not sacked or approved the sack of 700 workers of the commission, recalling that on assumption of duty, he was briefed by both the ministry and the NDDC, whose interim administrator at the time complained of a bloated staff strength which made him (the minister) to ask what the interim administrator had done about it.

The minister stated that after the inaugural briefing, the interim administrator of the NDDC never came back to him on any action he had taken or planned to take on the issue and that whatever he did about “the bloated staff strength” he had complained of had no ministerial approval.

“The allegation of non-performance peddled in the same petition is also baseless. The Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs reports to the President, and not to hired petition writers. It is the President that assesses the performance of his ministers.”

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