As the probe on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is ongoing, with horrible allegations and counter – allegations emerging from the probe committee, the damp muddle is hanging precariously over the Commission’s shady activities which are not in accordance with its mandate, as prescribed in the NDDC (Establishment) Act, 2000. The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, last week revealed that lawmakers have been beneficiaries of contracts awarded by the NDDC. In response to the 48 hours given to him by the House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila to mention the beneficiaries, Akpabio has forwarded names of National Assembly members who were beneficiaries of NDDC contracts to the House of Representatives. They include: Sen. Peter Nwaoboshi involved in 53 projects, Sen. Nicholas Mutu whose name appeared on 74 projects, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide and Sen. James Manager involved in 6 projects respectively, Sam Anyanwu with 19 projects and others who were identified as Ondo and Edo Reps.
The revelations on the activities at the NDDC are nothing short of an organised crime against the Niger Delta people. Legislators that are responsible for appropriations and oversight participated in the largesse of their appropriations. They could not perform their oversight on projects that were awarded to them. This undoubtedly creates an inherent clash of interest. According to Vivian Bellonwu, Programs Director of Social Development Integrated Centre (SOCIAL ACTION), “the National Assembly should bear in mind that a lot of Nigerians hold the belief that, it is the failure of effective oversight by the nation’s Parliament and lawmakers that led to the rot which has infested the Commission, as seen today”.
We call on the lawmakers to show integrity and an unbiased posture as legislative statesmen and women, in carrying out their duties. The probe must remain on course, to expose everyone involved. The National Assembly members who benefitted from the contracts should be investigated and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to those who may have such intention to loot. With their names duly published, the next appropriate line of action is for the anti-graft agencies to swing into action.
We call on the anti-graft agencies (EFCC, ICPC) and security agencies to immediately begin investigation into the matter, make arrest and prosecute accordingly these members of the National Assembly involved in the contract racketeering scandal at the NDDC. Not acting on these findings of the probe would amount to Niger Delta and Nigerians losing multiple times, if those behind these thefts are not called to account for their crimes. It is for this reason we must do away with any failure to act accordingly, which we had experienced in past administrations.
We deem it very necessary for Akpabio to provide more information on the names of the companies and individuals used as proxies in the award of the contracts, the nature of contracts awarded and the amounts of money involved, as this will assist the anti-graft agencies in recovering all looted funds and tracing other individuals who may be involved in the contract frauds.
We also call on the National Assembly to ensure transparency in the ongoing probe by continually updating the list of those involved in the looting of the NDDC and putting its findings and reports in the public domain, for accountability and easy access.
We strongly demand that this probe be made to go far beyond the Pondei-led IMC, to 2001, with the light beamed on everyone ever involved with the NDDC. It has become expedient, given the level of corruption witnessed in the Commission, for the probe to be expanded beyond the last 6 months, in order to adequately address the rot in the system.
We demand that in line with the tenets of democracy, the probe committee of the National Assembly must not sweep matters under the carpet or unduly shield anyone found to have been involved in the heist, from being investigated and duly prosecuted, as this will pave way for the recovery of the stolen funds meant for the development of the Niger Delta region.
For further enquiries, kindly contact the SOCIAL ACTION Communications Team Lead, on: lillian[at]saction.org