Fresh scandal rocks NDDC

2011-02-10
THE SUN Newspaper- Murphy Gana-Gana

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to probe into a fresh N31.9 billion scandal, rocking the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). This is coming even as controversy over an alleged illegal transfer of US$20 million by management of the interventionist agency from an offshore bank account rages.

Impeccable sources hinted Daily Sun that the anti-graft agency might have begun discreet investigations on a petition written by Ifeanyi Nrialike & Co, an Abuja-based legal firm on behalf of the Niger Delta Justice and Mass Movement (NDJMM), a pressure group in the oil rich Niger Delta region.

In a letter to the chairman of the EFCC dated January 25, 2011, the petitioners alleged that the Management of the NDDC, Mr. Chibuzor Ugwouha, recently awarded a N27 billion consultancy contract to a Port Harcourt-based firm (name withheld) for the provision of consultancy service for the studies and design of the East-West coastal road for which an advance payment of N4,451,452,375.00 was made without recourse to due process.

The contract was allegedly awarded and advance payment made in October last year without the involvement of the Bureau of Public Procurement, after a new generation bank was said to have offered to guarantee the contractor in a letter to the NDDC dated October 13, 2010. Ironically, the petitioners alleged that the same East West coastal road contract was on the tenders list advertised last year by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs based on a directive by the Federal Government that the NDDC should hand over the project to the Niger Delta ministry.

“It is of a fact that in April 2009, President Goodluck Jonathan, then as vice president, while declaring open the first South-south Economic Summit, had announced government’s directive that the project be handled by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs,” the petitioners noted. It was further alleged that the management of the NDDC awarded a N4.9 billion contract for the completion of the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) head office complex in Port Harcourt, which was to serve as the permanent headquarters of the NDDC and released a 15 per cent mobilisation fee since early last year, without achieving remarkable progress.

The petitioners also urged the EFCC to probe the alleged illegal transfer of US$20million by the NDDC leadership from the commission’s offshore account with Union Bank (UK) to First Bank (UK) as well as reports of a forged resolution of the agency’s governing board in which conflicting dates with respect to the dissolution and constitution of the second and third boards were given in the process of effecting the account transfer.

“We wish to draw your attention to a query dated December 3, 2010 with Ref. SGF/55/5.2/V111/247, issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to the managemnt of the Niger Delta Development Commission on the said unlawful and illegal transfer of the account from the Union Bank (UK) to First Bank (UK). The SGF issued the query after a recommendation by the commission’s governing board, which had earlier suspended two top officials, who allegedly collaborated with him to perpetrate the illegal act,” the petition read in part.

 

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