…Insists Forensic Audit Will Expose All Beneficiaries
The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, on Tuesday, said it stood by the list of prominent Niger Delta leaders released by the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, as contractors in the Commission, saying what the Minister released was only a tip of the iceberg. Director, Corporate Affairs, NDDC, Mr. Charles Odili, said the Commission has details of the contracts and proxies used to collect them, including the 250 contracts collected in one day in the name of the National Assembly.
He also disclosed that scholars of the Commission facing hardship abroad over non-remittance of their fees and stipends would be paid by the end of this week, adding that President Muhammadu had given an order to the effect.
Meanwhile, the Commission has invited President Muhammadu Buhari to commission the N24 billion Ogbia-Nembe Road cutting across 14 riverine communities in Bayelsa State.
Speaking on the release of list of NDDC contracts handled by members of the National Assembly, Odili said: “The one submitted by Senator Akpabio was not compiled by the minister but came from the files in the Commission.” The NDDC spokesperson clarified that the list submitted to the National Assembly was actually compiled by the then management of the Commission in 2018.
He observed that there was another set of lists for emergency project contracts awarded in 2017 and 2019, but these were not submitted to the National Assembly.
Odili affirmed: “The Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Commission stands by the list, which came from files already in the possession of the forensic auditors. It is not an Akpabio’s list, but the NDDC’s list. The list is part of the volume of 8,000 documents already handed over to the forensic auditors.”
He also said that prominent indigenes of the Niger Delta whose names were on the list should not panic, as the Commission knew that people used the names of prominent persons in the region to secure contracts, adding that the ongoing forensic audit would unearth those behind the contracts.
The spokesperson said the intention of the list was to expose committee chairmen in the National Assembly who used fronts to collect contracts from the Commission, some of which were never executed. Odili added that the list did not include the unique case of 250 contracts which were signed for and collected in one day by one person, ostensibly for members of the National Assembly.
On the forensic audit exercise, he said that it was on course and the Commission had positioned 185 media support specialists to identify the sites of every project captured in its books for verification by the forensic auditors.
Odili advised members of the public to discountenance the “avalanche of falsehood being orchestrated by mischief makers,” regretting that “more insinuations and accusations may be thrown into the public space by those opposed to the IMC.”
On the payment of scholars, Odili explained: “The delay in the remittance of the fees was caused by the sudden death of Chief Ibanga Etang, the then Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, EDFA, of the Commission in May.”
“Under the Commission’s finance protocol, only the Executive Director (Finance) and the Executive Director (Projects) can sign for the release of funds from the Commission’s domiciliary accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
“With the death of Chief Etang, the remittance has to await the appointment of a new EDFA.” “Senator Akpabio, the Honourable Minister, said President Buhari who has been briefed on the protest by students at the Nigerian High Commission in London, has ordered that all steps be pulled to pay the students by the end of this week. We expect a new EDFA to be appointed this week. As soon as that is done, they would all be paid,” he added.
On Ogbia-Nembe road, he asserted that the 29-kilometre flagship project built in conjunction with the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, creates a land link to the ancient city of Nembe for the first time. He disclosed that NDDC management’s invitation to Mr President was delivered through the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
He said required 10 bridges and 99 culverts, but” to conquer the swampy terrain, the construction involved digging out four metres of clay soil and sand filling it to provide a base for the road.”
According to him: “The road has cut the journey time to Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, from three hours to one and a half hours.”
“This project is a not only a flagship of intervention in the Niger Delta, it is also a model of development partnership between the Commission and international oil companies in the region,” he said. Vanguard News Nigeria
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Declare Bandits Terrorists, El-Rufai Tells FG
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has called on the Federal Government to proscribe bandits as terrorists.
El-Eufai said declaring bandits terrorists would help the Nigerian military “kill” them within the confines of international laws.
He made the call at the presentation of the Kaduna State Security Incidents Report for the Third Quarter of 2021 in Kaduna on Wednesday.
According to the governor, “We in the Kaduna State Government, have always aligned with the declaration of bandits as insurgents and terrorists.
“We have written letters to the Federal Government since 2017, asking for this declaration because it is the declaration that will allow the Nigerian military to attack and kill these bandits without any major consequences in international law.
“So, we support the resolution by the National Assembly and we are going to follow up with a letter of support, for the Federal Government to declare these bandits and insurgents as terrorists so that they will be fair game for our military. This is the view of the Kaduna State Government.”
Kaduna State has been one of those affected by the activities of banditry.
Students, religious leaders have been abducted and killed by bandits in the state.
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Ortom Asks Fulanis To Speak Out Against Foreign Invasion
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has asked Fulanis, indigenous in Nigeria to speak out against the invasion of communities in Nigeria by their kinsmen from foreign countries.
Governor Ortom spoke on Wednesday at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi when he received a delegation of Nasarawa State Traditional Rulers on behalf of the State Government on a condolence visit.
The delegation was led by the Emir of Keffi, Dr Shehu Chindo.
The Nasarawa State Traditional council visited the state to condole Governor Ortom and the Benue State traditional council over the yet-to-be announced death of the Ochi’Doma, Elias Ikoyi Obekpa.
Governor Ortom explained that the Tiv people, Fulanis and other Nigerians had lived together peacefully until foreign Fulanis were allowed to move into the country unchecked to cause the current violence being witnessed in the country.
On the ranching law, Governor Ortom explained that the law is a win-win for herders and farmers as it prohibits open grazing and cattle rustling, stressing that the law does not spare any offender from prosecution, including natives.
The Governor expressed appreciation for the visit, stressing that as brothers, it was incumbent on them to sympathize or rejoice with one another when the time permits, the reason he attended the coronation of the Emir of Keffi, Dr Chindo.
Governor Ortom acknowledged his Nasarawa State counterpart, Engineer Abdullahi Sule for his efforts to ensure peace between people of the two states, saying the traditional institution also have a great role to play in that regard.
Leader of the delegation and Emir of Keffi, Dr Chindo, who also recalled his early days in Makurdi where he attended his primary education, presented a condolence letter to Governor Ortom from the Governor of Nasarawa State, saying the news of Och’Idoma was an unfortunate incident for Benue, Nasarawa and the entire country.
He expressed hope that the “conflict entrepreneurs who are benefitting from the farmer-herder crises will one day regret,” stressing that the Tiv and Fulanis were made by God and cannot separate.
The Emir also expressed appreciation to Governor Ortom for personally attending his coronation and the support he gave for the occasion, even as he prayed God to guide him through his administration.
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EndSARS Anniversary: Release Arrested Protesters, Journalists Now, NBA Warns Police
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called on security agencies to ensure the unconditional release of peaceful protesters and journalists arrested on Wednesday during the commemoration of the first anniversary of the #EndSARS protest.
NBA’s President, Olumide Akpata, in a statement, noted that the arrest of peaceful protesters and journalists on lawful duty showed that the country and its security agencies have not learnt from last years’ experience.
Akpata, who directed the NBA Human Rights Committee to immediately spring into action to ensure the protection of the rights of those arrested, frowned at the failure of the various governments to compensate victims of police brutality, whose petitions have been upheld by the various #EndSARS panels.
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Part of the statement reads: “It is regrettable that on the occasion of the anniversary of such a symbolic moment in our nation’s history, we do not appear to have learnt our lessons as symbolised by the arrest and detention of peaceful protesters exercising their fundamental human rights, and journalists going about their lawful duties at the Lekki Toll Plaza this morning.
“The NBA unequivocally calls for unconditional release of all peaceful protesters and journalists arrested today and hereby mandates the NBA Human Rights Committee to immediately spring into action to ensure the protection of their rights.
“I am, however, not under any illusion that the issues associated with police-citizen relations can be addressed by mere recommendations of quasi-judicial panels.
“A sustainable improvement in the quality of that relationship must consist of robust legislative intervention that addresses the structural problems of the Police Force itself as an institution, with particular concern to the welfare and discipline of the rank and file.
“It was in furtherance of this realisation, that the Nigerian Bar Association, is collaborating with the House of Representatives in its legislative response to the underlying issues.
“That intervention crystallised into a Bill repealing and re-enacting the Police Service Commission Act, which is due, now for Third Reading at the National Assembly.
“I am confident that the propositions in the draft Bill, when passed into Law, would achieve a significant landmark in the relationship between the citizens and the police.
“I want to conclude by honouring the memories of all those who have died due to police/SARS related brutality. In this regard, particular mention must be made of those who fell at the Lekki Toll Plaza on that fateful day.
“We are consoled by the fact that their ultimate sacrifice was not in vain. If anything, it has elicited a new national consciousness amongst the youths of Nigeria; one that would continue to be consolidated in the struggle for justice, equity, and fairness.
“They are the heroes of this hour. May their soul continue to rest in peace, and may their memory be a blessing to us.”
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