The contracts awarded in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, have continued to make headlines, this time the commission has turned the heat on its former acting Managing Director, Dr. Joi Nunieh and Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger-Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, asking them to refund N1.96 billion and N2.552 billion respectively, which is over N3.5 billion in total.
In a letter dated July 28 written to Dr. Nunieh, the NDDC’s Director, Legal Services, Peter Clever Okoro Esq gave her seven days to refund N1.96 billion in compliance with the order of Senate of Nigeria, noting that she approved payments of the money for Lassa fever kits against established due process principles and process and advice by the director, education, health and social services and director, planning.
Also in the case of Senator Nwaoboshi, The Legal Services Director said the N2.552, 305.600 was money received for contracts for the production of plastic desks and chairs for primary and secondary schools in the Niger Delta region, which were not executed.
It could be recalled that the Senate, which upheld the report of its Ad hoc Committee set up to investigate alleged financial recklessness of the Interim Management committee, IMC, of NDDC, last month, asked Professor Daniel Keme Pondei-led IMC to refund N4.932 billion to the account of the NDDC.
Already the police has come into the contract issue with the Inspector General of Police ordering investigation into the N2.552 billion contracts for desks and chairs, this is as a result of a petition to the Inspector General of Police by NDDC.
Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei, the Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, CEO, NDDC, was said to have sent documents to the police chief in respect of the on-going investigations on the matter.
Meanwhile a source close to Nunieh denied any complicity on her part. Senator Nwaoboshi, who, again, denied receiving contract from the interventionist agency, said he was already in court with NDDC, describing the letter as a diversionary ploy.
In Okoro’s letter to Nunieh titled, “Demand for the refund of N1.96 billion to the Niger Delta Development Commission” obtained by Vanguard News, said: “You are invited to recall the memo in respect of payment for requests for Lassa fever kits dated January 17, 2020 from the Director, Education, Health and Social Services to you as Ag.MD/CEO of the Commission at the material time.
“The said memo and the minute by the Director, Planning specifically advised that the programme should not be paid for as it was not captured in the commission’s budget. The directors further advised that the programme be included in the proposed 2020 budget to bring it within the ambits of the legal requirements.
“Contrary to the advice by the directors and against established due process principles and practice, you directed that the said payments amounting to N1.96 billion be made. “I have been directed to demand and I do hereby demand that you pay N1.96 billion within seven days of this letter to the account of the commission in compliance with the order of the Senate of Nigeria.”
Also recall that Nunieh, while speaking to journalists after the final session of the Senate Ad hoc Committee, last month, had stated that no payment was made by the NDDC under her watch without the knowledge of Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
According to her, only N8billion was expended by the agency from October 29, 2019 to May 31, 2020, when she held sway contrary to the figure being bandied around.
Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, who is the Chairman of the Senate Adhoc Committee, had said that based on record supplied to the panel by the IMC, the agency had so far spent N81.5billion. He added that of the amount, the IMC, led by Nunieh, between October 2019 and February 18, 2020, spent a total of N22.5billion, while the current one, led by Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, has so far spent N59.1billion.
However, Nunieh denied spending such huge sum. The ex-acting MD of the NDDC further alleged that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs frustrated her efforts during her tenure before she was finally removed from office.
In the Nwaoboshi matter, Okoro said: “That sometime in 2017, the Commission awarded contracts to certain companies for the production of desks and chairs for primary and secondary schools in the Niger Delta region under the 2016 budget of the commission. The list of the companies is attached as Annexure ‘A’. The total value of the said contracts was N2.552.305, 600.OO (Two billion, five hundred and fifty two million, three hundred and five thousand and six hundred Naira).”
“That the contracts were in furtherance of the commission’s education sector mandate as catalyst for the improvement of classroom and learning conditions in the Niger Delta region.
“That instead of supplying the chairs and desks to the Commission’s warehouse in Port Harcourt, or to any of the NDDC offices in the nine Niger Delta states, the items were supplied to a warehouse described as Akuede Akwis’ located at Benin Expressway, Okpanam, before Wichetech Aluminum Company.
“That the 2019 budget of the commission also contains the following heads: a.) Provisions and supply of plastic chairs and desks for primary and secondary schools in Delta North Senatorial District (Lots 1-15) for (Serial No. 21); b.) NDDC—Provisions and supply of plastic chairs and desks for primary and secondary schools in Delta North Senatorial District (Lots 1-20) for (Serial No. 33); Production and distribution of desks and benches in selected schools in the Niger Delta Region for (Serial No. 396).
“That despite having fully paid for the 2017 contracts for the production of chairs and desks, the items have not been supplied to the commission. The result is that the commission and the Niger Delta region have been deprived of the use of the desks and chairs. “That I have been further directed to demand that you refund N2,552,305,600.000 (Two billion, five hundred and fifty two million, three hundred and five thousand and six hundred Naira) to the commission being the contract sums paid in respect of the said contracts within 14 days of this letter,” he said.