A non-governmental organization, NGO, Foundation for True Freedom and Good Governance, FTFGG, has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, requesting the anti-graft agency to probe the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, and the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei.

Consequent upon receipt of the petiootn, the anti-graft agency has invited the group, Foundation for True Freedom and Good Governance, to adopt the petition on Thursday.

According to agency officials, the adoption of the petition is a standard practice to enable the commission verify the signatories before the commencement of investigation of the allegations against the two public officers, bordering on alleged diversion of public funds.

Recall that the Senate Ad Hoc Committee, headed by Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi, which investigated the NDDC activities, said it uncovered mismanagement of N81.5 billion.

The invitation of the group, coordinated by an activist, Deji Adeyanju, was contained in a letter, with reference number 3000/EFCC/ABJ/HQ/EG/T.6/Vol4/044, and signed by the Head, Economic Governance Section of the EFCC, Adebayo Adeniyi.

The letter reads, “We write to acknowledge the receipt of your petition, dated August 3, 2020 in respect of the above subject and to inform you that investigation into the case has commenced.

“In view of the above, you are kindly requested to attend an interview with the undersigned, through the O/C team six on Thursday, August 20, 2020 at the EFCC headquarters’ third floor.”

A top source in the commission said, “The EFCC has gotten a petition against the two public officers. This agency is ready to look into the allegations on the condition that the petition must be adopted. We do not want a situation where a petition will be dumped on us without knowing those behind it.

“There are preliminary steps we must take before we begin the investigation of allegations against public officers. We will meet with the leaders of the group on Thursday to undertake these procedures before we know whether the petition has merit.

“It is unfortunate that the letter of invitation sent to the group has become a political issue. Irrespective of the circumstances, we will do our job professionally.”

Although Akpabio a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, had been undergoing probe by the EFCC on his tenure, this is the first time the EFCC has received a petition on alleged fraud in NDDC.

The Chairman of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee, in his report, said the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the NDDC spent N81.5 billion in eight months; adding that the amount was contained in the submission of the IMC to the Ad hoc Committee.

He said IMC 1, which was then chaired by Ms Gbene Joi Nunieh, between October 2019 and February 18, 2020, spent N22.5 billion out of the N81.5billion and that IMC II, chaired by Professor Pondei, between February 19, 2020 and May 31st 2020, expended N59.1 billion.

Insisting that the budgeting was not entrenched in NDDC, Adetunmbi added that the committee discovered a “significant level of contract spitting by the management of the agency.”

He added, “This may have been done to lower the approval threshold, thereby avoiding control measures that would have queried the transactions.”

He said NDDC’s use of financial asset must be refocused and that its record of external audit appeared to be weak and insignificant.

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