President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said his administration is reviewing the concluded forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) with a view to recovering every kobo that is recoverable.
The President had ordered a forensic audit of the NDDC in October 2019 to probe alleged financial misappropriation.
Speaking in Abuja at the virtual commissioning of the NDDC Prototype Hostel at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Buhari pledged to prosecute those found culpable in accordance with the law.
According to the President, it was regrettable that the special development fund of the entire region was squandered by a few for more than 20 years, leaving many in penury.
“The serial abuse, lack of delivery and what had become an entrenched institutional decay was the reason why I called for the forensic audit,” the President was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
“Therefore, going forward we shall ensure every recoverable kobo, is recovered for use in service of the people of this region and those found culpable shall face the Law.
“Consequently, I want to use the opportunity of this commissioning to direct all statutory contributors to the NDDC to remit all outstanding funds to the Commission, and to ensure this is done transparently and according to laid down procedure and process.
“The Niger Delta Development Commission needs to demonstrate that it can achieve the objectives it was conceived for and make its impact felt all over the Niger Delta Region. The lives of the people of the Niger Delta could be so much better, if the funding received by this commission since its inception, in billions of naira over the last 20 years, has been judiciously deployed in service of the people.”
President Buhari directed that all abandoned projects that directly impact the livelihood of the people should be revived and completed.
This is even as he noted that the contract for the building of 1,050 capacity hostel for male and female students was awarded in 2004, and like many others, it was abandoned.
He added, “When I directed the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to institute a forensic audit of the Commission, after many representations by major stakeholders in the Niger Delta, I had also directed that all viable projects which had been abandoned, but which would impact positively on the lives and livelihoods of the people, be immediately revived and completed.”
“This prototype university hostel consists of 1,050-bed spaces, 525 each for males and females, and is furnished to meet the needs of a university student. The complex also boasts of significant hard and soft infrastructure to ensure its sustainability and durability.
“The completion of this structure is equally in recognition of the importance government attaches to providing quality housing and improved education for all Nigerians.”
A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, dismissed the application filed by one Francis Momoh and affirmed the final forfeiture of properties worth N1.8bn recovered from a former Executive Director, Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Tuoyo Omatsuli, to the Federal Government.
Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, had, on Monday, December 10, 2018, ordered the final forfeiture of the properties which include Block 117, Plot 4, Lekki Peninsula Scheme, TPAO 992, Ikate Ancient City, Eti-Osa L.G.A, Lagos, measuring 1804.089Sqm and Plots 1-18, Block 43, TPAO 992, Ikate Ancient City, Lekki Peninsula, Eti-Osa, Lagos, measuring 10,000Sqm.
Others are Plot 1b, Northern Business District, Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1, measuring 1000Sqm and Plot 1; Block 25, Lekki Peninsula Residential Scheme 1, Eti-Osa L.G.A, measuring 2989.10Sqm, to the Federal Government.
Dissatisfied with the Order, Momoh had approached the appellate court seeking to set aside the order of the court.
But in a judgment read by Justice Daniel Kalio, the appellate court held that Momoh did not place any material before the court “to enable it to disturb the findings of the lower court”.
The appellate court also held that Momoh’s appeal lacked merit and was accordingly dismissed.
“The judgment of the lower court is affirmed,” it further held.
Counsel to the EFCC, Ekene Iheanacho, while moving ex parte application for the interim forfeiture of the properties had referred to paragraph four of the affidavit, detailing how a contractor with the NDDC, Starline Consultancy Services Limited, was paid the sum of N10, 218, 019, 060.59) (Ten Billion, Two Hundred and Eighteen Million, Nineteen Thousand and Sixty Naira) as consultancy fee for levies collected from oil-producing companies in the Niger Delta region.
It was further stated that out of the money paid to Starline, a sum of N3, 645, 000. 00 (Three Billion, Six Hundred, and Forty-Five Thousand Naira) was paid as a kickback to Omatsuli through a company named Building Associates Limited.
“Some of the funds were used by Building Associates to buy properties in the name of a company, Don Parker Properties Limited, where Omatsuli had majority shareholding,” Iheanacho had further told the court.
Iheanacho had also told the court that Momoh, whom he described as the majority shareholder in Building Associates Limited, was introduced as a shareholder in Don Parker Properties Limited so as to disguise the nature of the crime.
After hearing the submissions, Justice Obiozor, had granted all the reliefs sought by the applicant and ordered the interim forfeiture of the properties to the Federal Government.
The Judge had further directed the Commission to publish the Order in any national newspaper within 14 days, notifying the respondents or anyone interested in the properties to appear before the court and show cause why the properties should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The applicant, in compliance with the court’s order, had published the interim forfeiture order in The Nation Newspaper of May 26, 2018. However, the respondents had, on October 1, 2018, opposed the application, claiming ownership of the properties.
Delivering his judgment, Justice Obiozor, had held that the properties were acquired through proceeds from kickbacks received by Building Associate Limited operated by Momoh on behalf of Tuoyo; and ruled that the properties be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.
The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, says it is committed to transforming agriculture from its current rudimentary level to modern commercial business that would guarantee food security not just for residents of the Niger Delta region but for other Nigerians.
This was the view of the NDDC Interim Administrator, Dr Efiong Akwa, during a ceremony for the presentation of Honorary Awards organized by the Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria, CAFFAN, at the Rivers State School to Land, in Port Harcourt.
According to the NDDC Director Corporate Affairs, Dr Ibitoye Abosede, the NDDC under the current Interim Administration and Management was focused and determined to promote modern agricultural practices in the country.
The NDDC boss was given an award by CAFFAN in recognition of his contribution to youth development, food security and economic development of the Niger Delta region.
Akwa, who was represented by the NDDC Director of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Felix Amorue, noted: “Agriculture remains a key sector with enormous potential to create employment for our teeming unemployed youths.”
He remarked: “The NDDC has consciously embarked on implementation of our master plan on agriculture. The Commission through the Directorate of Agriculture and Fisheries has over the years carried out several programmes aimed at increasing the Agricultural/Fisheries productivity in the region.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that under the training and capacity building programme of the Commission, over 15,000 youths, women and practicing farmers had been trained on various agricultural businesses. He added that the Commission has concluded plans to train and empower additional 2,000 youths and women across the region.
Akwa said the NDDC in collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture provided credit/grants to 120 co-operative groups of youths and women to carry out various agricultural enterprises in the Niger Delta region.
In addition, he said: “The Commission had in the past empowered over 2,500 fisher folks with fishing gears, boats, outboard engines, hooks, nets, fish boxes, floater sinkers and other fishing accessories to increase the exploitation of offshore fishing in the riverine communities in the region.”
The Interim Administrator observed that the Commission had established two rice mills to boost the Federal Government initiative of home-grown and self-sustainable rice production.
“The rice mills are: the 120 tons per-day Rice Mill at Elele-Alimini in Rivers State. This mill is currently being managed by Elephant Group for the Commission and the 10 tons per-day Rice Mill at Mbiabe Ikpe in Akwa Ibom State.”
Akwa said that NDDC in collaboration with the Federal Government and International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, was carrying out a Livelihood Improvement Enterprise programme in the Niger Delta Region to remove over 45,000 youths and women from poverty through various creative agricultural enterprises.
He said further: “The NDDC has proposed to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to upgrade and re-activate some fishing terminals in Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Ondo and Delta States, to increase fish landing and quality of fish processing in the region.”
Earlier in his address, the Chairman of the Rivers State Chapter of Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria, Hon. Clapton Ogolo said that the association chose to focus on the theme: “Aquaculture, a true business opportunity, empowerment and economic development.”
He said that as an association, they would continue to contribute their quota in maintaining and sustaining food security in Rivers State and Nigeria as a whole, noting: “A fragile society is a society that cannot provide food for her citizenry. Its citizens will be prone to all sorts of negativities.
“Agriculture is pivotal to the development and sustenance of every society. This underscored the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 which focuses explicitly on food by seeking to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”
In his own remarks, the chairman of the award ceremony and member representing Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro in the House of Representatives, Dr. Abiate Awaji-Inombek, stressed the need for farmers to be passionate about what they do.
“When you are passionate, you will think differently and stand out. Agriculture has so much prospects and opportunities available to be tapped,” he said.
Abiate said the on-going campaign for the establishment of a Federal College of Fisheries in the South-South region would be sustained until the objective was realized.
There was a robust debate in the Senate on Wednesday just before a bill to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act 2000 passed the second reading on the floor of the hallowed chamber.
The bill which seeks to include in the NDDC, states which have recently attained oil producing status, was sponsored by Senator Solomon Olamilekan.
In his contribution to the debate on the bill, Senator Olamilekan was of the opinion that following the discovery of oil in Bauchi, Lagos, and Ogun, the states have officially joined the league of oil-producing states.
According to him, by virtue of this discovery, the three states aforementioned are entitled to the 13 per cent derivation due to them according to the provision of Section 162 Sub-Section 2 of the Nigerian Constitution.
While many agreed with the lawmaker, there were some who did not support the amendment of the NDDC Act.
One of them was Senator George Sekibo who questioned the quantity of oil discovered in the states to be included in the NDDC, wondering if the quantity was enough to be refined and sold to benefit the country.
Similarly, Senator Matthew Urhogide argued that the name of the commission was specific in identifying the states which should be under the commission.
While he admitted that non-Niger Delta states could benefit from the 13 per cent derivation, the lawmaker described the move to include them in the commission as a mockery of the original idea for setting up NDDC.
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo Agege, who was also strongly against the bill, accused Senator Olamilekan of being a meddlesome interloper.
According to Omo-Agege, Senator Olamilekan should pursue the development of the South West Development Commission and not an amendment of the NDDC Act.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has admitted that the Nigeria Police Force is not properly funded, attributing it as the major challenge facing the security agency.
Speaking during the commissioning of the Police Barracks, Special Protection Unit (SPU) base 6 at Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, Osinbajo said the Federal Government worked with the National Assembly to enact the Police Trust Fund Act.
Osinbajo, however, maintained that despite the challenges, the Federal Government is committed to improving the livelihood of police personnel.
He explained that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been developing the Niger Delta region through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“Funding of the Police Force remains a huge challenge, which is why we worked with the National Assembly to enact the Police Trust Fund Act,” Osinbajo said.
“We are looking at other measures to improve funding for the police. This event meets two objectives – It is an important part of our government’s efforts to improve the lives of our police officers and it is also another important milestone in our administration’s pursuit in the peace and development of the Niger Delta.”
The vice president commended the NDDC for constructing the sixth base of the police Special Protection Unit (SPU) in the state, adding that the new building consists of 66 apartments for the security men.
On his part, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike said the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is a cash cow for politicians in the country.
While noting that the problem of the NDDC is not just the Niger Delta region but the entire nation, Wike asked the commission to work for the people.
The governor also advised the commission to work closely with the state to avoid duplication of projects.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike on Tuesday said the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is a cash cow for politicians in the country.
He stated this during the commissioning of the Police Barracks, Special Protection Unit (SPU) base 6 at Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“NDDC has been a cash cow for politicians,” he said. “You will see competition who will be the Managing Director, Executive Director (Finance), Executive Director (Projects).
“These are people who will make sure money is available for politics. You have portfolio contractors from Abuja. Every now and then, the MD will be running to Abuja.”
According to Governor Wike, the problem of the NDDC is not just the Niger Delta region but entire Nigeria.
Making reference to the promise by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, that the NDDC would change to meet the aspirations of the people of the region, Wike said it is time for the commission to work.
The governor also took a swipe at some lawmakers in the National Assembly who lobby for which projects to be included in the NDDC budget.
Wike explained that the problem he has with the NDDC is a lack of synergy with the state governments in the region.
Speaking further, he noted that he filed a lawsuit against the commission, accusing NDDC of picking up a project in a state thereby distorting the government’s plan.
He added, “I took NDDC to court and we defeated them. You enter somebody’s state, you don’t even know the development plan of the state and start distorting the development plan of the state.
“The road you want to do is not your road. You won’t liaise with the state to say ‘look what project do you want in this state.
“If you ask all the nine states in the Niger Delta and say State A, what kind of project do you want NDDC to execute, we are not interested in who will be the contractor. Our interest is that we are synergising with you so that you don’t repeat those things we are doing.”
In attendance are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkai Baba, among other top government officials and security operatives.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN to widely publish the names of those indicted in the alleged misappropriation of over N6 trillion in the running of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) between 2000 and 2019, as documented in the recent Forensic Audit Report on NDDC”.
In a statement on Sunday, SERAP also urged the president “to direct Mr Malami and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing N6 trillion, and to fully recover any misappropriated public funds”.
In its open letter dated 25 September 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “It is in the public interest to promptly publish the names of those indicted in the audit report, and to ensure that they face prosecution, as appropriate”.
SERAP said: “Taking these decisive steps would advance the victims’ right to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition, as well as improve public confidence in the fight against corruption.”
It added that, “Using the audit report to genuinely combat the corruption epidemic in the NDDC and rein in those indicted would alleviate poverty, improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services, and enhance the ability of your government to meet its human rights and anti-corruption obligations.”
“Despite the country’s enormous oil wealth, ordinary Nigerians have derived very little benefit from trillions of naira budgeted for socio-economic development in the region primarily because of widespread grand corruption, and the entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators,” the letter, read in part.
“The level of grand corruption in the NDDC, and the devastating effects on poor Nigerians are serious enough to meet the requirements of crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Nigeria is a state party.
“The public interest in publishing the names of those indicted by the audit report outweighs any considerations to withhold the information, as there would be no prejudice against those whose names are published as long as the information is appropriately framed and truthful.”
“The audit report raises prima facie evidence of grand corruption and its staggering effects in the Niger Delta. Nigerians have the right to know the names of those indicted and other details in the report, as guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Freedom of Information Act.
“Publishing widely the report and the names of those indicted would remove the possibility of obstruction of justice, and provide insights relevant to the public debate on the ongoing efforts to combat grand corruption and the longstanding impunity of perpetrators in the country.
“Nigerians are entitled to the right to receive information without any interference or distortion, and the enjoyment of this right should be based on the principle of maximum disclosure, and a presumption that all information is accessible subject only to a narrow system of exceptions.”
According to SERAP, “even if the government demonstrates that the publication of the names of public officials would substantially harm a legitimate interest, it is nevertheless obliged to disclose the requested information if, as it is the case here, the public interest in disclosure is sufficient enough to overweigh any perceived harm.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“Misappropriation of public funds meant to ensure access to basic public goods and services rises to the level of crimes against humanity, as this has forced millions of Nigerians in the region to live in inhuman or degrading conditions, in violation of the Rome Statute.
“According to our information, the Forensic Audit Report into the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) reveals grim allegations of misappropriation of N6 trillion in the commission between 2000 and 2019, and that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta.”
“According to the report, the NDDC operated a total of 362 bank accounts, which resulted in a ‘lack of proper reconciliation of accounts.’
“The missing N6 trillion and over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta have continued to have a negative impact on the human rights of Nigerians, undermining their access to basic public goods and services, such as education, healthcare, and regular and uninterrupted electricity supply.
“Public schools have been left to crumble and wither away, and health care facilities in several parts of the region lack even the most basic of amenities.
“Section 15 subsection (5) of the Constitution requires your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power. The UN Convention against Corruption requires your government to ensure effective prosecution of allegations of corruption.
“Specifically, article 26 of the convention requires your government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’ including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption. Article 26 complements the more general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption allegations.”
The letter was copied to Mr Malami; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye SAN, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
President Muhammadu Buhari will on Tuesday commission the Police Barracks, Special Protection Unit (SPU) base 6 at Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is expected to represent his principal to inaugurate the project built by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
NDDC in a statement issued on Sunday by its spokesman, Ibitoye Abosede, said the building is a 66-flat residential quarter and administrative block for police officers in the oil-rich state.
The project, previously inspected by NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr Efiong Akwa consists of an administrative block, an armoury, gatehouse, underground cell and 66 units of accommodation made up of the commander’s residence, second-in-command residence and 64 one-bedroom flats.
Akwa described the completion of the project as another milestone of the Buhari administration.
“When people say that NDDC is not working, you can see that it is not true. The problem is that people don’t get to acknowledge the numerous projects that the commission executed or is executing,” the statement partly read.
On the economic importance of the project, the commission said it would add value to the living conditions of the security officers in the Niger-Delta region.
The commission explained that the project is part of a broad-based partnership with the Nigeria Police Force to add value to their efforts at improving regional security.
It added that as an interventionist agency, it had “a responsibility to make sure that those who take care of our safety were provided with befitting and comfortable accommodation”.
With the completion of the project, the stage is set for an improved and more secure Niger Delta region.
The passing week has been a very eventful one globally with the world still battling COVID-19 and trying to adjust to the new reality.
Nigeria is never left a week without drama, as events continue to take different turns, leading the authorities to take certain drastic actions that got tongues wagging.
Having reviewed most of the major stories from the passing week, both locally and on the foreign scene, here are top quotes that tend to paint a vivid picture of what transpired and perhaps give us a hint of some things we must expect in the coming days:
1. “If I follow APC for this length of time, and they don’t give the Southeast an opportunity, I will feel bad.”
Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, says he will feel bad if the All Progressives Congress (APC) does not give the South-East a chance at the presidency, come 2023.
2. “I remain committed to his agenda for our great Nation and shall continue to support him in any way possible.”
Former Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, declares his support for the Muhammadu Buhari administration following his sack by the President.
3. “Today at the executive meeting, (party) president Suga said he wants to focus his efforts on anti-coronavirus measures and will not run in the leadership election.”
Secretary General of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Toshihiro Nikai, reveals that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will not run for re-election as party leader in September.
4. “The sooner the Taliban will enter the family of civilised people, so to speak, the easier it will be to contact, communicate, and somehow influence and ask questions.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes the Taliban will behave in a “civilised” manner in Afghanistan so the global community can maintain diplomatic ties with Kabul.
5. “I am the landlord, I didn’t give myself, the constitution gave me that power.”
Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku issues a stern warning to residents of the Mambilla Plateau, urging them not to sell lands to “selfish politicians” who storm the area in order to benefit from compensations meant for the Mambilla hydroelectric power project site.
6. “The report of the audit committee showed that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta and even before the submission of the report, some contractors have returned to site on their own and completed about 77 road projects.”
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio says the Forensic Audit Report of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) indicates that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects within the coastal region.
7. “Nigeria has 10.6 million cannabis users, this is the highest in the world, isn’t it sad?”
9. “This is to confirm to you that suspected kidnappers at about 06:45hrs along Lagos-Benin expressway, by Isuwa, kidnapped five unidentified persons and in the process shot to death one Sowore Felix Olajide, male, a pharmacy student of Igbinedion University, Okada.”
The Edo State Police Command confirms the murder of Olajide Sowore, brother to Sahara Reporters Publisher, Omoyele Sowore by suspected kidnappers.
10. “The trajectory into the future is bright. If you see some of the things we have been able to do under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to exit recession in record time, most established democracies are still battling with the recession.”
Despite the current challenges facing Nigeria, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, is optimistic that the nation’s trajectory is good.
11. “For us to reach the level of development that we need in our country, every part, segment and strata of the society must have a developed, deliberately focused leadership, so that what we do at the local level compliments what we do at the state level and from there, terminating at the apex – at the Federal level.”
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, attributes leadership deficit as one of the factors preventing Nigeria from achieving sustainable economic growth and development, and addressing insecurity and other socioeconomic problems.
12. “We apologize to anyone who may have seen these offensive recommendations.”
Facebook apologizes and disables its topic recommendation feature after it mistook Black men for “primates” in video at the social network.
13. “The committee is to identify grazing routes and work with states and map them. It is not to recover grazing routes, it is to identify the scale of the problem.”
Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu, argues that mapping out grazing routes will help to identify the scale of the herder-farmer crisis.
14. “Police have located the man and he has been shot. He has died at the scene.”
Authorities in New Zealand speak after police shoot dead a man who wounded six people in an attack at an Auckland supermarket.
18. “If you look at the President’s statement, in no place will you see that; not at all. In no place will you see those words that performance was weak, he didn’t say that.”
President Buhari’s media adviser, Femi Adesina, makes clarifications regarding the sacking of two ministers.
19. “Well, it happened because, perhaps for the first time in the history of the country, and of the NNPC, there is a President who is not using the place like a personal Automated Teller Machine (ATM).”
The Media Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina, explains why the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently declared profit.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has said the Forensic Audit Report of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) indicated that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects within the coastal region.
Senator Akpabio disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday when he submitted the report to President Muhammadu Buhari through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
“The report of the audit committee showed that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta and even before the submission of the report some contractors have returned to site on their own and completed about 77 road projects.
“Although the exercise had a checkered history, I thank Mr President and all those who supported and ensured its success,” the minister stated.
He added that the exercise was not done to witch-hunt anyone, but to ensure that the huge sums of funds allocated for developing the region are put to good use.
According to Akpabio, the Niger Delta region has remained backward since 1958 in spite of efforts by successive governments through the creation of various interventionist programmes and projects, a situation he says is changing.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed that the Federal Government will ensure it recovers over N6 trillion allegedly misappropriated in the running of the NDDC between 2001 and 2019.
Buhari who spoke shortly after he received the Forensic Audit Report from Akpabio, claimed that there had been evidence of substantial compromise in the execution of at least 13,777 and the existence of “multitude of NDDC’s bank accounts amounting to 362” which lacked proper reconciliation of accounts.
Consequently, the President directed that the report of the forensic audit on the NDDC be forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Justice for necessary action.
Malami, after receiving the report, assured that it would be critically analysed for necessary action and implementation.
In October 2019, Buhari ordered a holistic forensic audit on the activities of the NDDC from when it was established till August 2019, in response to the yearnings of the people to make the Commission more effective and result oriented.
The President said there was nothing tangible on the ground in the region to show for the huge funds committed over the years through the Commission.
He noted that his administration was concerned about the colossal loss occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the region, and how the citizens have for long been deprived of the dividends of democracy.
The Federal Government on Thursday said it allocated N6trn to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) between 2001 and 2019.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami made the comment when he got the forensic audit report of the NDDC from his Niger Delta counterpart Godswill Akpabio.
“It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government has approved N3, 375, 735,776,794.93 as budgetary allocation and N2,420,948,894,191.00 as Income from Statutory and Non Statutory Sources, which brings the total figure to the sum of approximately N6 trillion given to the Niger Delta Development Commission,” Malami said during the event which took place in Abuja.
According to the minister, the figure is an indication that the Federal Government has allocated a good amount of funds to the development of Nigeria’s oil-bearing region.
He, however, expressed concern over uncompleted and some unverified projects in the Niger Delta despite the allocations.
Malami’s remark comes almost two years after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a forensic audit of the NDDC starting from 2001.
Worried over alleged misappropriation in the Commission, Buhari insisted on knowing how funds budgeted to the region were spent.
“With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues,” one of the presidential aide, Femi Adesina, had quoted his principal as saying during a meeting with governors from states which make up the Commission.
“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent.”
In August 2020, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) equally approved N722.3m for the audit, with the payment coming from the Presidency.