NDDC Probe: Reps Panel Chairman resigns, says he’s ready for probe - Uju Ayalogu's Blog for News, Reviews, Articles and More

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Monday, 20 July 2020

NDDC Probe: Reps Panel Chairman resigns, says he’s ready for probe

NDDC Probe: Reps Panel Chairman resigns, says he’s ready for probe

Godswill Akpabio at a House of Reps public hearing on NDDC

* Akpabio hails decision, accuses lawmakers of benefitting from contracts

* Says NDDC opened 300 accounts, awarded over N1.3trillion fraudulent projects

* Agency’s Boss, Pondei collapses, as Gbajabiamila details doctors to revive him

A medley of drama and theatrics marked the ongoing House of Representatives Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission’s investigative hearing on Tuesday.

The Committee’s Chairman, Rep. Olubunmi Tunji-ojo (APC-Ondo), recused himself from the Hearing; The Acting Managing Director of the agency under scrutiny, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, slumped in the face of an intense drill and the Minister of Niger Delta, Sen. Godswill Akpabio accused members of the House, of partaking in the corruption they were investigating.

The atmosphere was extremely tense. The stakes were high; the odds were even higher.

Tunji-ojo stepped aside as head of the panel, investigating alleged corruption at the NDDC.

READ ALSO:   Most Contracts In NDDC Awarded To National Assembly Members –Niger Delta Minister, Akpabio

Mr. Tunji-ojo resigned at 11:37 am on Monday, at hearing room 231, House Wing of the National Assembly, after a 4-minute speech, where he said he was ready to face the anti-corruption agencies for allegations of corruption.

He said, “I’m ready to face anti-corruption agencies”, over allegations be that he took a contract from the NDDC.

Rep. Thomas Ereyitomi (PDP-Delta), stepped in as a replacement, immediately after Tunji-Ojo, stepped aside, at 11:40 am.

But reacting later in the course of his presentation before a reconstituted panel, Akpabio who sneeringly commended the ex-Chairman for stepping aside, however, added bitingly, to the loud protest of members of the Committee, that Tunji-Ojo, ought to have resigned earlier.

“Considering the weight of allegations against the Chairman, he should even resign earlier”, Akpabio said.

The lawmaker, even charged the panel, to dissolve the inquest and start afresh, instead of building on the work of the erstwhile Chairman.

“We are requesting that you start this investigation de Novo(anew)”, Akpabio suggested, to a prolonged protest from members to the panel, who later accused him of attempts at a cover-up on his alleged complicity in contracts sleaze.

But the Minister fired back, saying “Some members of this House, have also collected contracts from the NDDC”.

He also accused the ex-Chairman of the Committee, of “benefitting”, from the contracts.

Besides, he denied all allegations of corruption leveled against him, saying before he became Minister, NDDC had over 300 bank accounts.

“NDDC, Was running over 300 accounts before I became Minister”, he said, adding that the Commission was also renting vehicles at the rate of N200,000 per day until the Ministry stopped it when he came on board as Minister.

The Minister made the disclosure, while he was fielding questions before the Committee.

He also disclosed that an ex-MD of IMC of the NDDC, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, awarded fraudulent contracts to the tune of N1.3trillion before he was sacked by President in 2019.

The Acting MD of NDDC slumped on his desk at around 11:59 pm yesterday after an intense grilling by members of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

Pondei was moved out of the room and out of the National Assembly Complex, with other staff in tow.

Before he was helped out of the room, Prof. Pondei, said “contrary to allegations against the NDDC, statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Accountant General’s Office, on 31st October 2019 and May 2020, N81.4billion spent by the IMC of NDDC”.

He told the Committee, that “the allegations that N40billion was missing, is mere blackmail”.

Pondei, before he slumped, failed to explain to the Committee, why he presented only 4 documents to the panel when he was asked to make available 41 documents detailing the expenditure and contract awards by the Commission.

It was in the course of a barrage of posers from Committee members, on why he was not speaking to the issues and why he turned in 4 documents, instead of 41, as requested by the Chairman and how he expended the sum of N38.6billion as at May 2020.

“As of May 5, we spent N38.6 billion. I took N1.32 billion for COVID-19, but I don’t want to lie under oath, so I will provide the answer later”.

He refused to answer questions on alleged extra-budgetary spendings of over N1.32billion.

He regretted that he had “gone through media trials; I have seen my picture in a newspaper, where they said: Face of a Thief, and yet I didn’t steal anything”.

The Committee adjourned indefinitely at 4:41 pm, indefinitely.

READ ALSO:   Falana Hails Wike For Foiling The Abduction Of Ms Joy By The Police, Urges President Buhari To Dissolve NDDC Managt Committee

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