A Transparency Advocacy group known as Young Professionals for Peace, Transparency and Development (YPPTD) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa to launch an investigation into the alleged monumental corruption at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the tune of N700billion, seeking the arrest and prosecution of the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio and the Interim Administrator of the commission, Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa.
The group also called on the President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa as the Interim Administrator of the NDDC over the expiration of the three months tenure and lack of renewal and for the immediate setting up of a substantive Board for the Commission.
The Young Professionals for Peace, Transparency and Development (YPPTD), in a petition to President Buhari and the EFCC boss, alleged that the N700billion fraud was perpetrated under various systems and passed through conduit pipes including the allegation by the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), linking the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio in connivance with others to acts of forgery and illegal payment of N20billion to ghost contractors for the fictitious contracts of distilling purportedly awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The group noted that though the IYC provided alleged evidence of the sleazy process where the signatures of a former Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Prof Nelson and Former Executive Director (Projects) Samuel Ajugbe, were forged in order to pay the ghost contractors between N300million and N400million in the last three months, the EFCC failed to investigate these allegations and did not arrest the culprits.
The group called on President Muhammadu Buhari to act as a matter of urgency to suspend Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa who is illegally signing payments and documents at the NDDC because the last extension of his appointment as Interim Administrator of the NDDC expired about a year ago. “Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa has no constitutional authority to remain at the NDDC, where he continues to sign and make alleged fraudulent payments to their cronies. He should be removed immediately.
“We have it on good authority that most of the fraud perpetrated at the NDDC by Minister Godswill Akpabio and Effiong Okon Akwa were done through a corrupt process of fictitious payments to ghost contractors and the monies end up in the accounts of Burea De Change operators in Lagos and Abuja. This was corroborated by the Ijaw Youths Council where they described the allege pattern of fraud.
“It was discovered that out of the over N20billion paid out illegally by the NDDC, 60 percent is going back to Abuja through the bureau de change in order to service the pockets of non-Niger Delta political leaders that will facilitate his presidential ambition. While he has failed to pay genuine indigenous contractors that have finished their projects awarded by the Commission, he is rather hiring thugs to chase away protesting contractors who are demanding for their payments”.
The group also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take a second review of the Forensic audit ordered to review the accounts of the NDDC, alleging that the forensic audit has been tampered with and used as a negotiating wand to exonerate some members of the All Progressive Congress (APC), National Assembly members and others to delay and sabotage the appointment of substantive NDDC board.
“There is a high level of suffering among the people of the Niger Delta due to lack of development despite the trillions of naira that has been deplored into the NDDC. Hundreds of petitions have been submitted to the EFCC against Akpabio and Akwa, therefore in the interest of Justice and Equity, the EFCC should arrest and prosecute Akpabio and Akwa over the alleged N700 billion fraud in line with the anti-corruption laws.
“We call on the commission to identify corrupt officials and punish them. We also expect the probe to engender radical restructuring of the country’s civil service with a view to freeing it from the fetters of graft and ineptitude that diminish administrative efficiency. The NDDC under the supervision of former Niger Delta Minister, Chief Godswill Akpabio has become very predictable in its corrupt ways.
“The imposition of Mr Effiong Okon Akwa as Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission is not only illegal but an affront to the Niger Delta people. We want to state categorically that we and all progressive organizations are opposed to this thoughtless imposition in yet a further flagrant disobedience of the NDDC Act, which spells out the manner of appointing the Commission’s executive management.
“We call on Mr. President and his advisers not to take the patience of the Niger Delta people for granted with the continued flagrant disregard for the NDDC Act. They should reverse this illegal appointment and follow the guidelines on appointment of the executive management of the NDDC as spelt out in the law setting up the Commission.”