The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, has opened a fresh can of worms indicting National Assembly in the ongoing probe of the agency by the Red and Green Chambers.
Pondei released a list of contracts the Commission was allegedly coerced by the legislature to pay, saying it was a condition for harmonising the agency’s 2019 annual budget.
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Pondei states that some lawmakers, mostly members of ad hoc committees were in the habit of holding the commission hostage over the annual budget approval.
Most of the contracts they were arm-twisted to pay, he said, “were never done or sometimes, never completed.”
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Edgar Ebigoni, Pondei listed the contracts and benefitting firms to include: Kith Global Ventures Ltd: remedial works at New Ogorode Roads Lot 3, at the cost of N493,684,169.00 and paid on the 17/03/2020; 301 Constr. 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
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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; and Grapik Ltd: emergency at Umudee Internal Road at the cost of N207,673,107.70 and paid on the 17/03/2020.
Others include: Southland Constr. 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; and 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.
Also paid were 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; and 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.”
He added: “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.”
Continuing, the NDDC boss said: “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.