The Human and Environmental Development Agenda has said that the current probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission by the National Assembly was an attempt to delude Nigerians.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in October 2019 ordered a forensic audit of the commission from its inception in 2001 till 2019.
Since the auditing process began, the agency had been under the spotlight, with allegations and counter-allegations especially between Joy Nunieh, NDDC former Managing Director, and Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
HEDA in a statement by its Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, urged the Nigerian Government to take two important steps to ensure a transparent and meaningful probe of the NDDC.
The group said the public enquiry should be led by a retired judge and members be drawn from Nigerian Bar Association, Nigerian Labour Congress, the civil society among others.
The statement reads, “HEDA is working with credible organisations to expose the contract fraud over the years in NDDC. This has become necessary to save the commission and to protect the people of the Niger Delta on whose behalf the commission was established.
“The National Assembly is already compromised. It has become clear that they are part of the problem. There is no way that a suspect can be a judge in its own case. The Presidency owes it as a matter of national duty to constitute an independent public enquiry to investigate the dirty deals that appear to date back to decades.”
The group said the hands of National Assembly members were not clean, adding that it was clear from the revelation of Akpabio during a public hearing of the House of Representatives committee on Niger Delta.
It added, “An independent probe will likely see members of the National Assembly panel as suspects. They should never think Nigerians will forgive them if they sweep the dirts under the carpet. NDDC remains one of the richest agencies in Nigeria that in 2019 alone, the commission’s budget was N346bn.
“The NDDC is a can of worms. The probe of the National Assembly has reached a dead end. What can salvage the situation is a public enquiry.”