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Akpabio Makes U-Turn, Denies Accusing Lawmakers of NDDC Contract Scam

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By Ganiyu Nasirudeen

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Apparently overwhelmed by the implications of his earlier allegation against the National Assembly (NASS) members, the embattled Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio has reversed himself, replying the legislative Chambers with denial of accusing the lawmakers of involving in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contract scams.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila announced the receipt of Akpabio’s response Thursday.

Gbajabiamila quoted Akpabio as saying that he was referring to old contracts awarded by the NDDC which had not been paid for and some of which are part of the constituency projects of the lawmakers.

Coincidentally, Akpabio’s denial came after the Speaker’s declaration of following up the Minister’s allegation with legal action (pejury) as he refused to comply with the earlier directive of – publishing the alleged lawmakers who benefitted from the NDDC contracts scandal.

Recall that the Speaker had Tuesday given Akpabio 24/48 hour’s timeline to publish the names of culpable legislators.

Akpabio’s letter to the house:

“I refer to the resolution of the House passed on 21 of July, 2020 communicated to me on the same day directing me to respond to the contents therein within 48 hours

“I hereby respond as follows. The investigating committee on NDDC refused and or neglected to give me the opportunity to explain that reference to most NDDC contracts yearly been awarded since 2001 from the records allegedly to members of the National Assembly in both chambers were done without the knowledge of the alleged beneficiaries.

“However, the two chairmen of both committees had adequate knowledge . I never referred to members of the ninth National Assembly as beneficiary of NDDC contracts, as NDDC is yet to fully implement any NDDC budget since the commencement of the ninth National Assembly. In fact, the 2019 budget passed in February and harmonized between the 4th and 5th of March 2020 was received by the commission in the middle of April 2020, when same was designated to expire on 31st of May 2020.

“However, it is pertinent. It has always been known that the two chairmen of the committee on NDDC in both chambers, yearly exhibit unusual influence to the exclusion of Committee members and even the management of NDDC in appropriating funds to details embellished in the budget after passage of the line items at the plenary.

“In the 2019 budget, the Executive Director Projects forwarded to me the attached list of old contracts amounting to almost N9billion after tax that the House of Representatives Committee Chairman on NDDC, Honourable Tunji-Ojo insisted the IMC of the NDDC must pay before 2019 budget details could be released to the commission.

“The above explanation would have been made before now. May I assure Mr Speaker that as a former minority leader of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I shall forever promote the ideals of the National Assembly as an institution, hence I will not make the attached documents public since I obtained the documents from the lead forensic auditors.

“Permit me to explain that any reference to 50 or 60 per cent, during the investigative hearing was in answer to a question by a member of the committee as to whether or not a medical director could act as executive director projects, within the confines of the NDDC Act 2000, I answered in the affirmative, pointing out that the greatest project in the world today is COVID-19 pandemic, which is medical in nature.

“Furthermore, I am made to understand that 50-60 per cent of NDDC yearly budgets are medical in nature. Therefore, it is fitting for a medical doctor to act as Executive Director Projects in those trying times.

“Please, accept, sir, the assurances of my esteemed regard and do pass my explanation to my colleagues in the ninth assembly, who probably misunderstood my assertion.

“I am not passing it to the ninth assembly. I am passing the so-called misunderstanding to the whole world.

African Examiner reports that Mr Gbajabiamila said that Mr Akpabio’s reply would be referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to look at the merits of the Minister’s response.


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