Fight to finish over forensic audit: NDDC denies awarding contract to Senator Akpabio



* Releases names of 11 coys used by a senator to amass contracts

* Mass testing begins at NDDC as six test positive after death of executive director

By Codratus Godson

As hostilities between the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and kingpins of the National Assembly (NASS) continued, management of the Commission has denied awarding any contract to its supervisory minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Ministry.

Instead, the management released the names of 11 companies through which it said a senator who is from Delta State and has been in the centre of the NASS committees with oversight functions over the NDDC amassed contracts. Sources said the senator used to collect contracts and share to key members of the NASS to NDDC’s matters passed at the legislative houses.

Meanwhile, the panic in the Commission since the death of the Executive Director (Finance) seems to increase following six positive cases that came out after a test session. About 27 others who tested negative have still proceeded on isolation. They are said to come from the unit of the Executive Director (projects) alone, though the executive director himself, who has been waging the war against the NASS on behalf of the Commission, is said to test negative.

In a statement by the director of Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, the Commission said the claim by a serving senator the NDDC awarded contract worth N500m to Akpabio without him executing it was not the true position of things.

The Commission said it had searched its records but could not trace any contracts awarded Akpabio or any company associated to him. Instead, the statement said it is the serving senator that accumulated contracts of N3.6Bn from 11 contracts as far back as September 2016.

Saying the companies were either owned by the senator or traceable to him, the statement said; “Our records show that (the senator) used 11 front companies (owned or traceable to him) to secure the contracts in what is perhaps the biggest single case of looting of the Commission’s resources. “The inventory records show that these items were supplied and received on (the senator’s) business premises and warehouse. Meanwhile, the contracts were awarded to him. However, some of the items supplied to his warehouse through his cronies were later resold to the Delta state government, while the others were sold to other states through contracts awarded to him.

“All supply agreements were signed by one and the same person being (name withheld) traceable to the senator. This is in flagrant contravention of section 58(4) (a) and (d) of the Public Procurement Act. No wonder the senator and his cohorts are jittery about the ongoing forensic audit exercise in the NDDC and are doing everything possible to derail it.”

The statement advised the senator to step aside in any investigative activity against the NDDC.

Meanwhile, mass testing expected to cover all workers at the Commission has begun. Thus, tthe tension in the region and in the NDDC seemed to take a notch with the results of six staff members in the office of executive director, projects, returning positive.

Information available said 27 other persons who returned negative have proceeded on isolation.

The executive director (finance) died recently from confirmed Covid-19 and the Commission headquarters was shut down immediately. Now, a statement said following the directive by the Rivers State Ministry of Health that staff of the Commission should self-isolate in view of the Commission’s index case, all suspected cases have been requested to present themselves for testing, line-listing and contact-tracing in order to ensure public health safety.

The statement said the ongoing exercise has already covered the offices of the Acting Managing Director and that of the Acting Executive Director Projects. “Unfortunately, a few positive results have been recorded. Staff of the remaining directorates and departments have been advised to avail themselves of the opportunity of being tested at the Medical Unit of the Commission which has been fully decontaminated.”