July 31, 2021

The Senate Tuesday hit hard on those making accusations and counter accusations on alleged financial impropriety in Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC ) triggered by move by it to probe N40billion expended by Interim Management Committee ( IMC) of the Commission within the first three months of the year.

The Upper legislative Chambers warning to those fighting against and for the planned probe , was sequel to fresh request for extension of time , made by the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee , mandated to carry out the investigation , Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi ( APC Ekiti North ).

Adetunbi had in making the request anchored on order 43 of the Senate standing rule , complained that perhaps due to COVID-19 pandemic and attendant lockdowns, many of the Stakeholders invited by the committee did not respond on time but gradually indicating interest of honouring invitations sent to them .

He on the basis of the explanation , requested the Senate to grant the Committee additional six weeks to carry out the Investigation .

But in ruling on the request, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said six weeks was too long by cutting it to four weeks.

Lawan after putting the request to voice votes and voted for by virtually all the Senators , made remarks bordering on admonition for those he described as detractors .

He said : We wish the Committee a very successful exercise and urged it to remain focus as far as the planned investigation on finances of NDDC under the Interim Management Committee ( IMC) , is concerned .

” The move by the Senate in this direction, has generated a lot of controversies driven by vested interests .

” So many side attractions , detractions and disruptions pro or against the planned investigation are being carried out by people or groups of people .

” Part of the distractions are series of write ups in the media by the vested groups almost on daily basis but unfortunately , all these cannot stop the Senate from forging ahead with an assignment backed by resolution and firmly within the ambit of its constitutional responsibilities .

” So, in their own interest, the earlier they stop the distractions the better , because our committee will forge ahead with the assignment “.

Recalled that parts of the distractions trailing the planned investigation exercise, was allegation of witch Hunt levelled against the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly by the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Kemebradikumo Pondei that the move was allegedly made to frustrate the ongoing forensic auditing being carried out there by the Presidency .

An allegation that did not go down well with the Senate and some federal lawmakers individually attacked .

The allegations and counter allegations worsened with approaches taken by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Chairman , Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi ( PDP Delta North) .

Both had in the past weeks , being attacking each other through proxies.

While Nwaoboshi through documents given to journalists, alleged that Akpabio collected contracts worth N500million from NDDC in 2017 without executing them despite receiving full payment, Akpabio on the other hand , fired back through the IMC by alleging that Nwaoboshi collected N3.6billion worth of contracts from the commission in 2016 without execution .

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