UPDATED: NDDC Crisis: Armed police officers surround ex-MD Nunieh’s house

Joy Nunieh [PHOTO CREDIT: Businessday.ng]
Joy Nunieh [PHOTO CREDIT: Businessday.ng]

Armed police officers, about 20 of them, on Thursday surrounded the Port Harcourt home of the former interim managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Joy Nunieh.

“They (police officers) came here to my home since 4 a.m., they have surrounded everywhere,” Ms Nunieh told PREMIUM TIMES, Thursday morning.

“I am inside my house, I can’t leave for Abuja where I am scheduled to appear today before the House of Representatives Investigative hearing on NDDC,” she added.

Ms Nunieh said she has called the police commissioner in Port Harcourt over the development, but the commissioner said her office and her officials were not involved in it.

The embattled former interim MD and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, recently engaged each other in a war of words over corruption allegations in NDDC.

She said she suspects that Mr Akpabio may have a hand in the police blockade of her private residence.

Mr Akpabio and his aide, Anietie Ekong, declined comments after calls and text messages were placed to their known lines.

Rivers State police spokesperson, Omoni Nnamdi, said he is “yet to get that report, so let me not speculate.” When informed that the “siege” had been on since about 4 a.m., he said he will get back to this medium.

Background

Ms Nunieh and Mr Akpabio have been locked in a series of heated exchanges, the most recent being an accusation that Mr Akpabio tried to “come up” on her after failing to bribe her and convince her to take an oath of secrecy in Abuja.

She claimed that she slapped the minister for sexually assaulting her, a claim for which the minister turned down a request for clarification.

“We should not focus on sensationalism and pull-him down syndrome. For me, that (the development of the Niger Delta region) is what should engage our attention.

“As a Minister of the Federal Republic, I cannot discuss about an individual. I can discuss issues that will bring development and move the region forward; things that will promote the ideals of the Federal Government,” he said.

At the centre of the controversies is the Niger Delta commission, whose mandate to develop the oil-rich region has been sluggish for two decades of existence, largely due to corruption among officials in the agency.

Ms Nunieh acted as the commission’s head after the removal of Akwagaga Enyia in October 2019, but she was sacked four months later as the crisis rocking the commission over abuse of funds kept mounting.

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PREMIUM TIMES exclusively learnt that Mr Akpabio played a major role in the removal of Ms Nunieh.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in February, named Kemebradikumo Pondei, a professor of medicine, as her replacement. He also ordered a forensic audit on the commission’s finances.

Both Houses of the National Assembly have, in the past months, uncovered series of financial infractions in the commission’s activities ranging from non-performing contractors to unaccounted funds in the tune of billions of naira.



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