EFCC to quiz Ugwuoha, Alaibe, Ndoma-Egba, Ekere, others in NDDC probe
Following the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari for a forensic audit of the account of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, insiders at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, say the agency would re-visit files relating to the NDDC.
The NDDC, established in 2000 by the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo government to address the myriad problems plaguing the oil-rich region is perceived to have under-performed owing largely to corruption.
One of the suspected financial heists was the award of Water Hyacinth Emergency and Desilting Contracts from 2017 to 2019 under Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba as Chairman and Nsima Ekere as Managing Director. The contract initially valued at N2.5 billion was allegedly jerked to N65 billion.
Already, the Chairman Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide has raised the red flag and had signaled an inquest by his committee.
“Of course, that is a very serious offence. What we are hearing or what we know is that N2.5billion was budgeted for this activity, that is, desilting and clearing of water hyacinths.
“We are hearing that the Commission has spent N65 billion, so, we want to know if it is true,” he said.
The forensic audit will cover activities from 2001 to 2019.
Notable Nigerians who would be made to answer queries include Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, the first Chairman of the commission and Ambassador Sam Edem who succeeded him.
Others are Emmanuel Aguariawodo and his predecessor Timi Alaibe both former Managing Directors of the NDDC; AVM Larry Koinyan who was chairman and his managing director, Chibuzor Ugwuoha whose tenure was fraught with in-fighting and crisis bordering on alleged fiscal irresponsibility. Others are Dr. Tariah Tebepah, former chairman and his managing director, Dr. Christian Oboh.
In giving the directive, President Buhari said it had become imperative in view of the persistent criticisms of the operations of the commission.
According to him, what is presently on ground in the Niger Delta region does not justify the huge resources that have been made available to the commission.
He said: “I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions, especially the NDDC.
“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.
“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,’’ he said.
Buhari admitted that developing the Niger Delta area required enormous resources compared to other parts of the country with firmer lands.
“I am very much aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well, with experienced consultants,” he added.
The president, however, said that he would wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the commission.