Following the revelation of corruption allegations leveled against him and the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) the minister of Niger-Delta, Chief Godswill Akpabio, made a feeble attempt to explain the humongous contract awards and payments made in recent weeks by the Commission.
That lot fell to Dr Cairo Ojugboh, Acting Executive Director Projects of the IMC who appeared on a Channels TV program on Sunday, April 26, to address the allegations and repeatedly invoked Akpabio’s name in a desperate bid to explain away the allegations.
Ojugboh’s incoherent babble of platitudes and blustery to dodge the questions was all the more telling when he inadvertently confirmed the N4.8 billion Osmoserve Global Limited contract for unspecified medical supplies. The contract was awarded to Osmoserve on April 6 and an upfront payment of 55 percent was effected. In continuation of the practice under Akpabio and the IMC, the award letter does not specify the lots, quantity and quality of materials to be supplied, giving room for fraudulent manipulations.
Ojugboh’s testimony of lies and half-truths extends to the contract awarded to Signoria Concept Services Limited. The letter to the company dated April 6, 2020, read ‘Award of Contract for the Emergency Procurement of Specialized Medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Health Workers and Provision of Community Based Sensitization Campaign Against the Spread of Covid-19 and other Communicable Diseases in the Nine States of the Niger Delta Region’ and signed by Head, Procurement Unit on the instruction of the IMC. What has happened is that Akpabio and the IMC are trying to walk away from scandal because it has been busted and they are presently destroying all the evidence of the award of the contract to Signoria Concept Services Limited, which was made on April 6, 2020. Signoria Concept Services Limited was also paid N357 million for maternal delivery kits on February 22, 2020.
The two awards made to Signoria and Osmoserve were signed by Head of Procurement on behalf of the acting managing director/CEO of the Commission. We want to restate that both contract award letters dated April 6, 2020, were signed by the Head of Procurement on behalf of the acting managing director of the Commission. The contract award letter to Signoria has a Reference Number NDDC/MD/HPU/20/4/EHSS/05, while the one to Osmoserve Global Limited has Reference Number NDDC/MD/HPU/20/4/EHSS/02. Following the award on April 6th, 2020, the IMC has paid Osmoserve Global Limited upfront 55 percent of the contract value of N4.8 billion. Ojugboh knows he cannot deny this payment to Osmoserve. If he does, we will release the reference codes in the financial instruments used to pay them from the TSA to the CBN records!
Under intense questioning, Ojugboh also admitted, rather shamelessly, that the IMC paid over N4 billion to some firms for yet another medical supplies contract, this time for Lassa fever and others. Clearly the IMC was illegally put in place by Akpabio to enable him fleece the Commission and line up his pockets. In making these questionable payments, Akpabio and the IMC have depleted the NDDC bank balances, which was a total of over N50 billion earlier this year to a little over N10 billion as at today.
Even in making these payments the IMC and their boss resorted to the dubious practice of splitting payments to circumvent financial regulations. For instance some items in the over N4 billion payment made for Lassa fever and other medical supplies were split in sums of N47, 166, 787 each all paid on the same day, February 22, 2020. All of these can be confirmed from the TSA records at the CBN and we have copies of these records. What is apparent to the people of the Niger Delta is that Akpabio is using the forensic audit as a dummy to mop up the accounts of the NDDC. It is clear that Akpabio and the IMC have been exposed for what they are.
These evidence of large scale larceny by the IMC of the NDDC and Akpabio, minister of Niger Delta Affairs, make a mockery of the anti corruption mantra of President Buhari and is an insult to Niger Deltans and Nigerians who are destitute, especially at a time when resources are limited and far between. President Buhari has an official duty and a moral responsibility to Nigerians to put an end to these grand heists which are happening under his watch. He should as a matter of urgency bring order to the NDDC by disbanding the IMC which has clearly shown itself to be a tool for fleecing the Niger Delta people of their resources. He should also ensure that all funds looted by the IMC are recovered and ploughed back into the development of the Niger Delta.
COMRADE GODKNOWS SOTONYE
Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ADVANCEMENT GROUP