National Assembly members have been accused of blackmail and coercion, in forcing the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC pay rogue contractors, before approving the agency’s budget.
The Acting Managing Director of the commission, Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, made the accusation on Saturday amid the ongoing probe of the agency by the legislative arm.
Most sensationally, Pondei said most of the contracts the agency was arm-twisted to pay for, “were never done or sometimes, never completed.”
Pondei in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Edgar Ebigoni, listed some of the contracts he claimed the Commission was coerced by the legislature to pay as a condition for harmonising the agency’s 2019 annual budget.
*Kith Global Ventures Ltd: remedial works at New Ogorode Roads Lot 3, at the cost of N493,684,169.00 paid on the 17/03/2020;
*301 Construction Ltd: remedial works at Nja Road to Akoku Uno Lot 1, at the cost of N350,027,919.80 and paid on the 17/03/2020;
*Cracked Stone Constr. Ltd: remedial works at Ajaolubeti Road Environs Lot 2 at the cost of N394,010,952.10 and paid on the 17/03/2020;
* Collincrystal Energy Ltd: emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 7, at the cost of N431,053.035.20 and paid on the 17/03/2020;
*Collincrystal Energy Ltd: emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 3, at the cost of N361,357,276.20 and paid on the 17/03/2020;
* Grapik Ltd: emergency at Umudee Internal Road at the cost of N207,673,107.70 and paid on the 17/03/2020.
*Southland Construction. Ltd: remedial works at Umuduru Chukwu Umuorlu Road at the cost of N518,409,089.30 and paid on17/03/2020;
*Southland Constr. Ltd: remedial works at Umuduru, at the cost of N519,949,949.10 and paid on the 17/03/2020;
*Grandfox Global Services Ltd: emergency at Ope Road Okigwe LGA, at the cost of N580,438,578.00 and paid on the 17/03/2020;
*Collincrystal Energy Ltd: emergency at Benin Town Road Lot 6, at the cost of N348,853,184.60 and paid on the 7/03/2020;
* Crism Constr. Building Ltd: emergency at Eziama Osuama International Roads Isiala Mbano LGA, at the cost of N561,592,377.80 and paid on the17/03/2020.
* Argento Ltd: emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 4, at the cost of N382,805,411.60 and paid on the 18/03/2020;
*Two Rocks Cont. Ltd:remedial works at New Ogorode Road Lot 4, N500,875,848.00 and paid on the 18/03/2020;
*Elkan Zibson Ltd: emergency repairs of failed and unmotorable sections of Ezumoha Internal Roads Isiala Mbano LGA, at the cost of N531,150,414.29 and paid on the 19/03/2020;
* Cracked Stone Constr. Ltd: remedial works on failed and unmotorable sections of Benin Township Road Lot 8, at the cost of N417,806,787.01 and paid on the 19/03/2020;
*Dis Concept and Solutions Ltd: urgently remedy failed and unmotorable sections of Jessy and Jenny Road off Peter Odili Road PHC, at the cost of N476,794,367.22 and paid on the 26/03/2020;
*Ogugo Concept and Solutions Ltd:emergency repairs of failed and unmotorable sections of environs Yenagoa LGA at the cost of N300,029,695.14 and paid on the 26/03/2020;
*Webster Global ventures Ltd: construction of emergency repairs of failed and unmotorable sections Benin Township Road Lot 2 Oredo LGA, at the cost of N357,242,054.35 and paid on the 26/03/2020;
*Webster Global ventures Ltd: remedial works of failed and unmotorable sections of Akuku Illah Road Oshimili North LGA at the cost of N463,489,890.13 and paid on the 26/03/2020;
*Webster Global Ventures Ltd: remedial works of failed and unmotorable sections of New Ogorode Road Lot 2 Sapele LGA, at the cost of N 466,416,380.71 and paid on the 26/03/2020.
Pondei alleged that “this blackmail scheme explains why the 2019 Budget of the NDDC was passed by the NASS Committee in March, 2020.”
“We are talking about a budget that was billed to expire in May, 2020. The implication is that the management of the NDDC had only five weeks to implement the budget of one fiscal year and present a performance report on the same budget.
“This scheme has continued to play out because as at this month of August 2020, the budget of the NDDC for the 2020 fiscal year has not been passed by the Joint National Assembly Committee on NDDC.
“Sadly, nobody seems to care to ask questions because people are falling for the well-scripted smokescreen playing out in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
“This document is among the many others tendered before the NASS Committee, which never saw the light of the day, and which the NDDC Committee was never allowed to speak on when they eventually appeared before the Committee, during the public hearing.
“It was based on this evidential claim that the IMC of NDDC staged a walk-out on the first day they were to testify before the committee..
“The details of this list can be verified from the Central Bank of Nigeria through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
“Indeed, the same allegation informed the reason all well-meaning Nigerians urged the Committee Chairman, Hon. Tunji-Ojo, to recuse himself from the chairmanship of that hearing. This is in keeping with the Nemo judex in causa sua, which is a Latin phrase that upholds the principle of natural justice that no one can judge a case in which they have an interest.”
“It is very unfortunate that against all objective appeals and moral persuasions, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, alongside some other accused members of the House Committee on NDDC, proceeded to hold a public hearing, which was initially slated for two days, being the 15th and 16th of July 2020, but which effectively ran till 20th of the month, only for him to decide, at his own pace and time, to recuse himself from the hearing on the last day; an action which cast a dark shade on the entire public.
“This is because the same reason for which he recused himself on the last day was enough for him to steer clear from the matter, ab initio.
“The foregoing point to a clear fact that the Committee set out to do a bidding that was never in the interest of the public.
“They obviously needed a public hearing to tell the public what they wanted the public to hear, rather than the facts of the matter.
“The Spokesperson the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, on a National Television Programme recently, admitted publicly that contractors often approached chairmen of the House Committees and the members, to use their office to compel MDAs to pay them.
“This definitely should be the new height of the abuse of the oath of office they swore not to allow their personal interest interfere with the discharge of their official duties.
“Recall that since these allegations were first made by the Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh on National Television, Hon. Olubumni Tunji-Ojo has not deemed it fit to discountenance the allegations by way of a law suit.”
The statement also gave a detailed breakdown of the contracts which the National Assembly allegedly compelled the NDDC Interim Management Committee to pay before the 2019 budget is harmonised.
One of the firms mentioned in the statement, Webster Global Ventures, yesterday denied the claim made by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC that it used the National Assembly Committee to coerce the agency into making payment to the firm.
Webster Global Ventures described the statement credited to the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei as false, inaccurate and misleading. The company was emphatic that the National Assembly never influenced any payment made to the company by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Opeolu Adarae, the Operations Director of Webster Global Ventures said in a statement that the National Assembly “never influenced payment made to our company because we completed all projects we handled.”
“We have been in operations for more than 20 years and we have never been linked to any form of fraud as a corporate company.
“Nobody gave us any recommendation and we do not have any business with the National Assembly. As a matter of fact, the Executive Director, Project for the NDDC, Dr Cairo Ojougboh inspected our project and certified it satisfactorily completed before payment was made”.