Akpabio

Niger Delta minister, Godswill Akpabio, dropped a “bombshell” on Monday during the Senate investigative hearing held to probe the allegations of corruption in the NDDC.

Akpabio appeared ready to shatter the tables as he revealed that most of the contracts of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are given out to members of the National Assembly.

The revelation immediately unsettled the hall. Some members of the panel shouted “It is okay” the moment Akpabio made the allegation.

However, the deputy chairman of the committee, Thomas Ereyitomi, who headed the panel after the chairman, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, stepped aside over allegations of bias, calmed some members who charged at the minister.

But when Mr Akpabio, a former senator and minority leader of the Senate, was asked if he was given the said contract when he was a lawmaker, he claimed ignorance.

He, however, boasted that he has the records of lawmakers benefiting from NDDC. He also stated that the chairman of the panel is aware of his claims.

Aside from Akpabio, various officials who testified before the House committee also made allegations of reckless, unbudgeted, and unaccounted spendings by past and present officials of the NDDC.

One of such allegations was also made by Mr. Akpabio who said: “at a management meeting, some management members were paid N49 million each, and a total of N4.2 billion was withdrawn in a single day.”

He said the details of that spending have been submitted to the forensic audit committee.

Also, the acting managing director of the commission, Kemebradikumo Pondei, said he spent N1.32 billion as ‘COVID-19 relief funds’ for staff, not N1.5 billion as earlier reported in the news.

“The amount the IMC used to take care of NDDC staff as COVID-19 palliative was N1.32 billion, not 1.5 billion,” Mr. Pondei said when asked if the fund was budgeted for.