Palpable fear has enveloped some government officials and politicians that were reportedly fingered in the mismanagement of funds meant for development projects in the Niger Delta.
THE WHISTLER investigations revealed that tension has been building up since September when the Presidency received a report from the forensic audit committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC).
Investigations by THE WHISTLER revealed that highly placed present and former members of staff of the NDDC have been making frantic efforts to scuttle the probe, amid calls by concerned groups on the Presidency to make the report public.
Top politicians, some of whom are influential members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), opposition members of the People’s Democratic Party, civil servants, community leaders and corporate organisations linked to the contract scam at the Commission are sweating over their fate due to the weighty allegations.
Findings by this website revealed that those culpable have been trying to lobby Presidency officials in a manner that will ensure that the forensic audit report does not see the light of the day so as to save their political career and avoid prosecution.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who is personally supervising the implementation of the Presidential directive, is however unperturbed as he tries to mask those behind the looting of NDDC.
It was gathered that Malami has been discretely trying to ensure all efforts are geared towards unmasking those highly-placed officials that are involved in the mismanagement of the NDDC.
Key findings of the forensic audit report had revealed amongst others that “between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government approved the sum of N3,375,735,776,749.93k as Budgetary Allocation and N2,420,948,191 as income from Statutory and Non-Statutory Sources, which brings the total to approximately Six Trillion Naira to the commission.”
The report stated, “There has been colossal loss of resources in the form particularly, uncompleted and unverified developmental projects,” adding that “out of a total of 13,777 Projects (spread across the Nine States of the Niger-Delta Region) only 6,830 Projects have been completed.”
The audit report also revealed that “contrary to the TSA Policy of the Federal Government, the NDDC maintained 362 Bank Accounts with lack of proper reconciliation of the accounts,” while also pointing out “absolute violation of Due Process on Award of Contracts and Variations leading to massive Waste of Public Funds.”
According to a Presidential directive to the Attorney General which was sighted by THE WHISTLER, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) would be required to carry out “personnel audit and review of management and governance structure of the NDDC in-line with all applicable Laws and International Best Practices.”
According to the Presidential document, “The ICPC should also be required to review the processes, operational guidelines and financial manual (vis-a-vis provisions of the Public Procurement Act and other relevant Act) for the implementation of proposed financial management reforms to ensure effective compliance.”
The document, according to findings would also require the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) “to take all necessary steps, permitted by Law to recover all payments made for projects executed for private use; and to contractors who have abandoned the projects, not achieved reasonable milestone or milestones commensurate to payments already received.”
The document further revealed that “The EFCC would equally be required to reconcile and recover outstanding 3% contribution from oil companies (estimated to be in the region of $4bn), and to recover all NDDC converted Projects from individuals and put to the use/purpose(s) originally intended.
“EFCC would be required to review and reconcile all the 362 Bank Accounts maintained by the NDDC and ensure proper harmonization in accordance with the Federal Government’s TSA Policy.”
THE WHISTLER understands that the Presidency has further empowered the anti-corruption commission to “investigate and profile all contractors and individuals involved in issues relating to over-payment and to recover funds received from the Commission as may be necessary.”
The Presidential directive also requires the Code of Conduct Bureau/Tribunal “to investigate and, as may be necessary, prosecute any staff of the commission at the Code of Conduct Tribunal; including all active and retired persons who have been howsoever involved in cases of contract splitting, overpayment of contracts, and general incidences of conflict of interest in violation with the code of conduct for public officers.”
Further investigations also revealed that the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) have also been mandated “to ensure the enforcement of the extant provisions of Presidential Executive Order #06 on the Preservation of Suspicious Assets connected with corruption and other relevant offences.”
With his directive, the Nigeria Immigration Service is on alert to track and block the travel documents of suspected culprits trying to flee the country.
Similarly, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) would be required to “cooperate with any Agency of Government involved in the investigation of any transaction connected with the NDDC Report and Lift the Veil of Incorporation on any company identified to have violated any of the relevant Laws,” according to the presidential document sighted by THE WHISTLER.
The Presidential document also directed the AGF to take steps to review and ensure the amendment of the NDDC Act to correct anomalies clogging efficiency and bring it up to modern realities, and (coordinate the activities of all Agencies of the Federal Government involved in the Presidential directives.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Silva and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari are to also ensure full compliance by Oil Companies with the NDDC Act in terms of Fund contributions
Meanwhile, some stakeholders are demanding the immediate release of the forensic audit report and unmasking those behind the plundering of the NDDC resources.
An advocacy group, the South-East, South-South Professionals of Nigeria (SESSPN), in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, requested that the report should not be swept away.
The group President, Hannibal Uwaifo and the Publicity Secretary, Collins Steve Ugwu said, “We expected that the submitted report will quickly trigger a sequence of actions to preserve such a special development vehicle like the NDDC, from ever being so criminally abducted by rogue elements, for such aggravated rape and plunder visited on it.”
They demanded that the report should be attended to swiftly, to punish the culprits and to placate people of the Niger Delta who have suffered the consequences of the contract scam.