The House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta has summoned Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs; and Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The summons was issued on Friday by Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Chairman of the committee, after Joy Nunieh, the immediate past acting NDDC managing director; and Kolawole Johnson, an activist, testified before the committee on Friday.
The House committee and the Senate Committee on Nigeria are separately investigating allegations of corruption and malfeasance against NDDC officials.
Akpabio and Pondei were given until Monday to appear over the alleged expenditure of N81.5 billion in five months and other allegations against the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Commission.
Pondei had on Thursday led a walkout of the NDDC top management on members of the committee.
According to the NDDC boss, his team will not speak before the committee as it is being chaired by Tunji-Ojo, who the commission has accused of corruption.
Earlier during the hearing, Nunieh, who made her appearance via Zoom, told the House committee that she could not be present physically at the hearing due to events that occurred to her a day ago.
The ex-NDDC MD was expected to testify before the House Committee on NDDC on Thursday but was stopped from leaving her residence in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, by unidentified policemen, who allegedly attempted to arrest.
She explained that only N8 billion of the said N81.5 billion allegedly mismanaged was spent under her watch from October 2019 and May 2020.
She accused Akpabio of pressurising her to abuse due processes and engage in financial recklessness.
The ex-NDDC boss also claimed that forensic audit of the NDDC ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari as not truly begun as the lead consultant selected to carry out the exercise was not procured through due process.
Nunieh said: “The issue is that everyone in Nigeria has been deceived that the forensic audit is going on. I want to say here that if Nigerians find out that the forensic audit is going on, every testimony and allegations that I have made should be cancelled and disregarded, there’s no forensic audit going on.
“There’s no auditing firm in Nigeria that’s of big repute. The nine companies on that list, none of our major auditing companies in Nigeria is on that list. Secondly, can I say that the forensic auditors have been procured? my answer is no.
“The President had written a letter to the National Assembly appointing the forensic and suspending the appointment of the board, in that letter the President said that he was appointing the Interim Management Committee (IMC) to supervise the forensic audit, that was the reason he was bringing in the IMC.
“What I met wasn’t exactly what was going on, the Minister, Akpabio insisted that he will supervise the forensic audit, I reminded him and showed him a letter that the President had written, there’s no way that we can spend the money that’s in our budget.”
Also speaking, Johnson, who is the Head of Research at the Act for Positive Transformation Initiative (APTI), alleged that some NDDC officials paid monies meant for students under scholarship into their personal accounts.
According to him, investigations revealed that Pondei and Cairo Ojougboh, NDDC Executive Director (Projects) were among officials who allegedly diverted the scholarship monies into their private accounts.
“They (students) kept crying that their dues are not being paid and they are being locked out by their schools,” he told the committee.
Johnson claimed that while the students were complaining of the non-payment of the scholarship monies, “the NDDC team were busy paying themselves monies meant for students”.
He stated that some of the beneficiaries of the commission’s scholarship scheme have reached out to and challenged him on social media to help them tell Nigerians about their plight.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to come to the aid of the students “as fast as possible, even if it means bending the rules”.