A none governmental organization known as Niger Delta Development Watch (NDDW) has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to investigate the financial activities and transactions of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) since inception.
The group, through its Coordinator, Joseph Ebelo, said the investigation has become necessary in order to track the over N5 trillion that has been expended on the Niger Delta region through the NDDC without commensurate infrastructure development on ground to show for the humongous expenditure.
According to the group: “NDDC was an interventionist agency created by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 1999 to cushion and alleviate poverty in the Niger Delta region, but instead, the Commission has not improved the economic and social wellbeing of the down-trodden people of the region.”
The group said that a member of the House of Representatives, Hon Nicholas Mutu (an Ijaw from Delta state), who has been chairing the Committee on NDDC since 1999, should be held responsible for alleged misappropriation of funds budgeted annually by successive administrations, because of his complicity in many of the deals as well as failure of oversight.
It alleged that Mutu has been colluding with some top officials of the NDDC and contractors to defraud the Commission of tax-payers’ money in the award of contracts that were never executed.
The group referred to the multi-billion naira Nworie River Dredging contract, among others, which was never executed while payments were made to Roudo Nigeria Limited owned by Chief Tony Chukwu, who was said to have been awarded a contract before the 2015 general election by the NDCC to supply 50 Toyota Prado Jeeps. He allegedly failed to also execute the contract.
A former Imo State governor (Ikedi Ohakim), the group alleged, was also involved in the bogus Nworie River Dredging contract.
According to the group, “So much money has been siphoned from the NDDC coffers through contractors and many other phony deals through the instrumentality of the Hon Nichola Mutu-led Committee on NDDC in the House of Representatives.
“The buck stops at his table as the Chairman of the NDDC Committee since 1999. Rather than ensure proper oversight of the activities of the NDDC in order to accelerate infrastructure development of the region through judicious use of funds, he has promoted his pecuniary interests over and above the collective interest of the region.”
The group said Hon Mutu, who has won re-election into the 8th National Assembly, must be called to account, threatening that that it would not sit idly and watch him perpetuate himself as live chairman of the NDDC Committee in the House of Representatives only for his personal aggrandisement.
“If the hard stance of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration against corruption will hold sway, matters like this one which has denied the oil-rich region of the Niger Delta its right to rapid development, should be quickly dealt with through a comprehensive probe of the financial activities of the Commission since it was established.
“We therefore call on the security and anti-corruption agencies like the EFCC and the ICPC to swing into action of investigating those who are involved in the alleged looting and financial misappropriation in the NDDC since its inception, including a certain Deputy Director (Projects) from Delta state, who is fingered in the sale of contract papers to highest bidders and putting up documents for payment for contractors in whom he has vested interests,” the group said. [myad]