Nigeria: Alleged N2.5 Billion Fraud - NDDC Management, Bunch of Confused Men - Senator

Delta senator, Peter Nwaoboshi, has described the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as a bunch of confused men without vision or direction.

This is in reaction to allegations of diversion of funds paid for contracts allegedly linked to the lawmaker but not executed.

The commission in a letter signed by the Director, Legal Services, Peter Okoro, demanded a refund of N2.5 billion from Mr Nwaoboshi, being the amount the agency said it paid for contracts to companies allegedly linked to him. Although the names of the companies were not mentioned, the NDDC said the contracts were in furtherance of its education sector mandate as a catalyst for the improvement of classroom and learning conditions in the region.

The lawmaker was given a two-week ultimatum to refund the said amount.

But in a swift reaction, Mr Nwaoboshi said the matter is subjudice as it is already before two law courts of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria. He said he had sued NDDC, its spokesperson, Charles Odili, and some newspapers for defamation of character.

He said he was yet to receive the letter in which NDDC demanded the refund from him but noted: "nowhere in the contents of the purported letter was it stated that the contractor is directly linked" to him. He said neither was it stated that the warehouse, where the plastic chairs were domiciled, belongs to him.

The letter is, he said, fake as it was not conveyed through the official letter-headed paper of the NDDC - "apparently for fear of being sued for divulgence of fake information to the general public."

He also challenged the commission to take legal action to back up its claims.

"We have always maintained that the IMC of NDDC are bunch of confused men without vision or direction. Initially, the alleged figure was pegged at N3.7 billion only for the confused IMC Team to now come up with a totally different figure of N2.5 billion. Nigerians and the entire world could see the charades clearly. Even through the eyes of Steve Wonder!

"However, if the IMC of NDDC feel they truly have a genuine case against Senator Peter Nwaoboshi as contained in the purported letter, we are challenging them to go to the law court or make use of every legal procedure available to them," part of the letter read.

Mr Nwabaoshi has often denied benefitting from NDDC contracts.

Officials of the NDDC had accused him of hijacking contracts and budgets of the commission. This allegation was made during the investigative hearing of the financial recklessness and misappropriation of funds in the NDDC, by a Senate ad-hoc committee.

The acting deputy director, projects, NDDC, Cairo Ojougboh, alleged that budgets of the commission "have always been hijacked by the leadership of the committee on NDDC from both chambers for their personal gain."

"Some contracts supplied to 'an NDDC warehouse' along Benin-expressway. The warehouse belongs to Peter Nwabaoshi (a senator). About 2900 emergency projects were awarded and Mr Nwabaoshi collected 1000 of them, saying he will distribute them among senators and House of Representatives members. But when asked, lawmakers denied receipt. We are being accused because we are working for the region and because they want to take over the commission," Mr Ojougboh told the panel in July.

Similarly, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, named the senator among other federal lawmakers who allegedly got contracts from the commission, an allegation that Mr Nwaoboshi has denied, even daring the minister to send the names to anti-graft agencies.

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