The federal government has said it will prosecute officials of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) responsible for mismanagement of funds meant for the development of the region.
Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), disclosed this after receiving the report on the forensic audit of the commission.
Minister of Niger Delta affairs, Godswill Akpabio, presented the report to Malami who represented President Muhammadu Buhari to receive the report on Thursday.
Buhari had ordered a forensic audit of the NDDC’s operations from 2001 to 2019 two years ago.
The development came following allegations of gross mismanagement levelled against Kemebradikumo Pondei, former acting managing director of the commission, which led to his sack.
Speaking after receiving the report, Malami said the federal government will prosecute those found culpable of mismanaging funds.
The minister decried the poor infrastructural development in the Niger Delta region, which he said does not represent the huge funds invested in the area over the years.
“It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the federal government has approved N3,375,735,776,794.93 as budgetary allocation and N2,420,948,894,191 as income from statutory and non-statutory sources, which brings the total figure to the sum of approximately N6 trillion given to the Niger Delta Development Commission”, he said.
“Consequently, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the engagement of a lead forensic auditor, as well as 16 reputable audit firms to conduct the audit exercise.
“The president is delighted that the auditors have now completed this exercise and the report is today being presented”.
According to Malami, Buhari is aware of stakeholders’ demand to constitute a new NDDC board following the dissolution of the previous one in January 2020.
He said the president is “determined to address the challenges militating against the delivery of the mandate of the NDDC to the people of the Niger Delta Region”.
The minister said the federal government will engage in criminal investigations, prosecution, recovery of funds, among other legal actions, to recover mismanaged NDDC funds.
While expressing concern over “13,777 projects, the execution of which is substantially compromised” as well as 362 unreconciled bank accounts, Malami said the federal government “will in consequence apply the law to remedy the deficiencies outlined in the audit report as appropriate”.
“This will include but not limited to initiation of criminal investigations, prosecution, recovery of funds not properly utilised for the public purposes for which they were meant, and review of the laws to reposition and restructure the NDDC, for efficiency and better service delivery, amongst others,” he added.
Malami added that the essence of the forensic audit is to ensure accountability in the use of public funds.
He said the federal government “will, without hesitation, strategically implement all aspects of the audit exercise that will promote probity and greater prosperity for the Niger Delta region and Nigeria as whole.”