Former Acting Managing Director of Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mrs. Joy Nunieh has made a flurry of allegations bordering on fraud against the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Allegations made by Nunieh against Akpabio include asking her to take an ‘oath of secrecy’ to stop her from exposing fraud at the Commission, something she claimed she resisted.
She said he repeatedly sought to place her under an oath, until the issue was resolved at the office of the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
The former Acting MD addressed the press after she appeared before the Senate Ad-hoc Committee currently investigating NDDC.
Nunieh in the interview recounted her travails while headed the Commission for four months.
She alleged that her failure to dance to the tune of Akpabio on some alleged fraudulent requests led to her removal as the MD of the NDDC’s IMC.
Akpabio’s ministry oversees the NDDC since it was removed from the presidency under the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Recall that President Buhari had in February 2020 reorganized the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), replacing Barrister Joy Nunieh with Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, as Acting Managing Director.
Buhari also approved the increase of the IMC’s members from three to five.
Nunieh’s words: “Nobody makes any payment in NDDC without Godswill Akpabio’s approval. When we first came, on the day of the inauguration, he said to me in the car, ‘Madam MD, if you don’t do what I say, the same pen with which I used to sign your paper is the same pen I’ll use to remove you.
“He said the first thing I should do when I get to Port Harcourt is to change the dollars in the NDDC account. I was scared to do that and he claimed that I have a poverty mentality that I’m afraid of money. All of you knew that he accused me of refusing to spend money. It is strange today, it’s about money.
“After that, he came to Port Harcourt two days after the inauguration and told me that the first thing I should do was to change the dollars.
“He told me to take an oath. Though he denied that, he told me, three times until we had a reconciliation at the Villa in the office of Mr. Abba who is the S.A. to the President on domestics.
“In that meeting was Alhaji Maikano and he said the only condition is when I take the oath and I didn’t take the oath and will never take it.
“After that, he said, he was going to remove me and he started the campaign of calumny against me. I didn’t even answer him because the fact will speak for itself.
“I refuse to go with him to the FEC meeting to deceive Mr. President and the reason is because the law says if I contravene a section of the procurement Act, it’s five years imprisonment without an option of fine.
“So if I had gone with him to deceive Mr. President I would have been in trouble because they said it’s the 2020 budget, but Akpabio went and got approval when the budget was not ready.
“One of the issues raised against me was that I awarded contracts without them knowing about it. Am sure that is what they told you people yesterday.
“Apparently, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh never sits in the office, so he never knows the workings and the bureaucracy of payments in the office.
“One, I am just a viewer of a platform that made payments in NDDC. There are different steps to take before payments are made in NDDC. One, there is the issue of Lassa fever which obviously they didn’t carry that one along.
“Nobody makes payments in NDDC without Godswill Akpabio’s consent.
“He said I remove Mr. Katulgo from the legal department and send him on compulsory retirement and he said we cannot have a northerner as head of the legal unit.
“I said, I cannot do that. I do not have the powers because I am just an IMC. It’s a criminal offense, and against public service rules for me to do that. He said I should repost all other directors that refused to take his instruction during my predecessor’s time, that is the person who was there before I came.
“So, he came and asked me to draft a letter on my letterhead implicating Senator Peter Nwaoboshi for collecting contracts in NDDC. I told him that I will not do that. I am a lawyer and who alleges must prove. He said Senator Nwaoboshi is giving us trouble and besides he didn’t recognize the IMC. I said I will not do that letter. He said I was ungrateful and I refused to do that letter.
“Dr. Cairo now said he will do the letter. He said if Akpabio asked him to kill, he would kill and I said, for me, I will not do that. At that place, there was one Mr. Etiebet who was the only NDDC staff that was present at that meeting. He now asked Dr. Cairo to go and send for letterheads from the office.
“They now went and sent for the letterheads, Dr, Cairo now did a letter which I want to tender at the Ad-hoc Committee before I came late alleging that Senator Nwaoboshi had contracts and I said if I signed any document from me seen by Mr. President, he will believe. So I will only write that the EDP knows about it.
“The next thing he told me is that I should make sure these people leave the procurement. Before I came when he and Festus Keyamo became Ministers, in their first meeting, they awarded 30 contracts of water hyacinths.”
Speaking on the allegations by Nunieh, Saturday night on Arise TV, Akpabio described her as a “disgruntled former MD who does not know that offices come and go.”
“I’m not supposed to join issues with her as a minister of the federal republic,” he said.
He said the forensic audit ordered by the President had made those who have questions to answer be sponsoring attacks.
Meanwhile, ahead of Nunieh revelations, Akelicious investigations had exclusively revealed the controversial approval and payment of N1.9bn Water Hyacinths contracts to various companies with alleged links to Akpabio.
The New Diplomat reported that the contract were allegedly executed in breach of due process without recourse to any tender, proper documentation as payments were being effected without raising vouchers.
Checks by The New Diplomat revealed that some of the companies allegedly fingered as conduit-pipes are mere brief case firms with no known history of work done previously.
Some of the companies which the Minister reportedly approved payments for had no website to even authenticate their background. They include AUCICC Investment Ltd with FCMB Account details and address at 128 Eliowhani Road Port Harcourt; Betma Multipupose Services with GTBANK account details and address at 21 Lucky Street, off Road 24 AGIP estate, Port Harcourt; Ideanergy Nigeria Limited with ZENITH Bank Account details with office address at no 2 Ebony Road, Port Harcourt; Dartcom Projects Nig Ltd with FIRST BANK account details with office address at 6 Ndahbros Street, Trans Amadi; Rocksky Ventures with FCMB Account details and with office address at 18 Abuloma Road, Borokiri Port Harcourt and Niron International (Nig)Ltd with Keystone Bank details and with office location at 12 Abuloma Road, Port Harcourt.