Presidential panel backs off, clears Buhari appointees in NDDC fraud claim

Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption
Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption

The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, said on Friday allegations of corruption it levelled against the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, were not directed at the current board and management.

The Chairman of the Committee, Itse Sagay, had on Thursday accused the governing board and management of the commission of being reckless with funds meant for the development of the oil-rich region.

The law professor, who spoke at the opening of a two-day national dialogue on corruption in Abuja organised by PACAC in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President, said the commission had bought 70 exotic cars, including eight super Lexus SUVs at N78 million each, and 10 Landcruiser SUVs each costing N63 million.

He did not clarify the period the vehicles were bought, and did not disclose the management that ordered the purchase.

Following the report, the Commission’s spokesperson, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, debunked the allegations, saying no such purchases were made since the current board assumed office on November 4, 2016.

“Indeed, it is a known fact that the Chairman, the distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), the Managing Director/CEO, Nsima Ekere, and the two Executive Directors are still using their private vehicles three months after assumption of duties,” Mr. Amu-Nnadi said in a statement.

Mr. Amu-Nnadi said the Commission was only now in the process of acquiring “operational vehicles”.

He listed the vehicles to include five Toyota Prado SUVs, 10 Toyota Hilux trucks, four Toyota Landcruiser SUVs, one Toyota Coaster bus and two Toyota Hiace buses.

He said the procurement procedures were being followed in making the purchases.

In its reaction to the NDDC rebuttal, PACAC insisted its chairman, Mr. Sagay, was right with the allegations, but blamed the commission for not seeking for clarifications.

“The NDDC ought to confirm the claim by the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay by seeking clarification on the administration under which the said vehicles were purchased,” Okon Eminue, a representative of the presidential committee said in a statement.

“Prof Sagay is quite right. The vehicles were bought by one of the past administrations of the NNDC.”

The committee said when the details of the purchase were first published, the immediate past Managing Director of NDDC, Dan Abia, was still in office.

Mr. Abia was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan, and left office in 2015.

“To be sure, President Muhammadu Buhari had assumed office when the scam came to light. One would have thought that the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies would wade into the allegations at that time. Consequently, Professor Sagay’s accusation or allegation does not say that the scam is perpetrated by the current leadership of the NDDC,” Mr. Eminue said.

“For emphasis, Prof Sagay’s allegation does not, in any way, pertain to the present Board and Management of NDDC under the leadership of Distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN (Board Chairman, NDDC) and His Excellency Obong Nsima Ekere (Managing Director, NDDC). The scam even came to limelight before Mrs Seminitari was appointed Acting MD, NDDC,” he added.


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