Street Journal’s investigations have revealed that investigations into the alleged fraudulent activities of the sacked board of the Niger Delta Development Commission have been stopped at the instance of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Pius Anyim.
in what may be termed as insincerity in the government’s war against corruption, findings revealed that the SGF has put a number of calls through to the anti-graft agencies and he has prevailed on them to stop the investigations into the activities of the Commission. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC has been investigating allegations of financial improprieties against the Board of the Commission long before it was sacked by the President. The results of the investigation may however not see the light of the day, no thanks to the intervention of the SGF.
Since the Board was inaugurated about two years ago, in-fighting has been one of its main characteristics thus leaving the nine states and 105 Local Government Areas covered by the Commission to suffer from the warped leadership of the Commission. Most people in the oil producing states agree that the projects in their states are not commensurate with the money being injected into the NDDC. Where projects can be seen, they are substandard in most cases.
Within three months of the inauguration of the new Board of the NDDC, controversy came knocking as N 200 million was allegedly spent to renovate the office of Chibuzor Ugwoha, the Managing Director. Since then, Ugwoha and the Governing Board have been at loggerheads. Not long after, the Managing Director, the Executive Director Finance and Administration, Power Aginighan; and Executive Director Project, Arch Esoetek Etteh were guests of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC over the irregularities surrounding the award of some contracts worth N61 billion naira by the Managing Director.
If the investigations are allowed to go on, the NDDC Board may also have questions to answer on the controversial transfer of funds belonging to the Commission into two UK based banks.
Findings revealed that $20 million was transferred from Union Bank, UK to a current/deposit account in the First Bank UK. It was also found out that a forged copy of the Board’s resolution was utilized in opening the accounts.
It was also revealed that the action was carried out after belated mandatory approval of the Accountant- General of the Federation (AGF) as required by the NDDC Act and Section 701 of the Federal Government Financial Regulations.
Another question begging for an answer is “why was the approval of the Accountant General of the Federation to open the First Bank account obtained in December 2010 after the account had been opened in September 2010?”
Meanwhile, it is being said within the NDDC that “if $20m had to be withdrawn from Union Bank, because it was an ailing bank, why was the sum of $57m left in the same bank by the Commission?”
The Panel set up by the President to look into the issue has also made a startling revelation that no interest has been credited to the NDDC from September 2010, when the account was opened, to date. Besides, the panel established that the transfer of another $37m to First Bank UK offshore account bringing the total funds in the account to $57m.
To further damage the credibility of the members of the Board, it has been discovered that of over 500 contracts worth over N120bn, were awarded by the NDDC without budgetary provision, a clear negation of the Public Procurement Act.
Available records also show that since its inception over 10 years ago, the NDDC has received about N 561.918 billion out of its statutory allocations of N 104.9 trillion.
Though the reasons behind the Secretary to the Government of the Federation remains unknown, those who saw him as a saint in his days as Senate President might have a rethink when the matter eventually blows open.
Many still recall his issues with Senator Artrhur Nzeribe back in 2002, when the latter was suspended for allegedly defrauding the Senate of over N22 million. Nzeribe however fired back by stating that the money he was accused of stealing was actually approved by the then Senate President, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim. Nzeribe shocked many when he tendered documents that bore Anyim’s signature approving various sums of money totaling N22 million.
He was also named in a “discount” matter that came up when cars were purchased for members of the Senate during his time as President of the Senate.