N81bn NDDC probe: Reps summon Akpabio as ex-MD makes damning testimony

The House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC has invited Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, and the acting Managing Director of the agency, Daniel Kemebradikumo Pondei, to appear before it on Monday, July 20, 2020.

The committee led by Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo took the decision on Friday after hearing the testimony of Joy Nunieh, a former Managing Director of NDDC in their investigation into alleged financial recklessness in the commission.

The House is probing the alleged mismanagement of N81 billion by the interim management committee (IMC) of the commission led by Pondei as acting Managing Director.

Nunieh, who joined the panel via Zoom, made grave allegations against Godswill Akpabio, whom she accused of contract scams and other corrupt practices in NDDC.

The ex-NDDC boss was to testify before the Committee on Thursday but was prevented from travelling to Abuja following an early morning siege to her residence in Port Harcourt by armed Policemen. She was eventually rescued and taken to the Rivers State Government House by the state governor, Nyesom Wike.

Answering questions from the Committee, the former NDDC boss said with instruction of Akpabio some contracts were awarded by the Commission to unregistered companies, some of which got registered after they were awarded the contract.

“In some cases contracts were pre-awarded before the designs were given so you find out that most of the projects were abandoned,” Nunieh said.

She also said there is no ongoing forensic audit of the Commission.

“The issue is that everyone in Nigeria has been deceived that the forensic audit is going on. I want to say here that if Nigerians find out that the forensic audit is going on, every testimony and allegations that I have made should be cancelled and disregarded, there’s no forensic audit going on.

“There’s no aiding firm in Nigeria that’s of big repute. The nine companies on that list, none of our major auditing companies in Nigeria is on that list. Secondly can I say that the forensic auditors have been procured? …my answer is no.

“The President had written a letter to the National Assembly appointing the forensic and suspending the appointment of the board, in that letter the President said that he was appointing the Interim Management Committee (IMC) to supervise the forensic audit, that was the reason he was bringing in the IMC, what I met wasn’t exactly what was going on, the Minister, Akpabio insisted that he will supervise the forensic audit, I reminded him and showed him a letter that the President had written, there’s no way that we can spend the money that’s in our budget,” she said.

“He requested in his memo to the President money for the funding of the forensic audit be gotten from the service wide votes. The President Buhari in his wisdom refused that request and in writing said that it should be put in the NDDC appropriation budget, making NDDC the procuring entity. And I said that to take the money and send it to the ministry will be like Federal Ministry of Health asking the federal medical center that they will like to implement what’s in the budget now.”

Nunieh said because she didn’t want any illegality or the forensic audit to be discredited, she ensured with the help of real consultants to help her come up with the terms for these auditors.

“The lead consultant that everyone is talking about is not a forensic auditor, only the others are forensic auditors, the role of the lead consultant is to gather all the forensic auditors, all the reports and put it together and give it to the lead consultant who will do the reporting that’s just his role.

“On the case of the forensic auditor I do not know if they have ever carried out a forensic audit, I will be asking to tell them to give you evidence that they have ever carried out a forensic audit report in accordance with provisions of public procurement act.

“Can I now stand before this committee to say that the lead consultant has been procured my answer will be no. Remember you cannot give any approval or procure any consultant without the appropriation made by the National Assembly.

“2020 budget hasn’t even been considered or discussed not to mention being passed. They don’t have approval which was one of the reasons I refused to go before FEC which was one of the issues of the insubordination because the act states that if I commit any offense it’s five years imprisonment without an option of fine, so in going to FEC it will mean that I intentionally went there to obtain an approval under false pretenses knowing that the 2020 budget has not passed and also knowing that it was criminal and anticipatory,” she said.

While Akpabio had not honoured the invitation of the Committee in the last three days, Pondei and other members of the NDDC IMC had walked out on the Committee on Thursday, compelling the committee to issue a errant of arrest on them.

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