A Civil Society Organization, Act for Positive Transformation Initiative (ACTI) has alleged that the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has awarded a contract of N4,861,354,250.00 for COVID-19 test kits without due process.
In a statement by the organization’s head, Directorate of Research, and Programmes, Mr Kolawole Johnson on Wednesday in Abuja, they said the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC returned the agency to its era of looting, which in turn prompted President Buhari to order a forensic audit of their activities a few months ago.
The organization specifically accused the Director of Project of the NDDC, Dr. Cairo Ojugboh of lying on national television when he feigned ignorance of such contracts, even the evidence abounds.
The CSO wrote:
“President Muhammadu Buhari, out of concern for the people of the Niger Delta region, appointed an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to clean the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), conduct forensic audit and make it more responsive to the people.
“Sunday, 26th of April, 2020, Nigerians watched a member of the Interim Management Committee, the Director of Project, Dr Cairo Ojugboh, on Channels Television struggling hard to defend grisly allegations of corruption steamrolled on the Commission.
“Our organization, Act for Positive Transformation Initiative has fact-checked many of his claims and found them to be, at best, dishonourable mendacities and concealed lies.
“First, Dr Cairo claimed the contract has not been awarded for any intervention on COVID-19. This is falsehood. Contracts were indeed awarded on the 6th of April, 2020.
“Also, Cairo claimed he is not familiar with a company called Osmoserve. He lied. Osmoserve got the largest share of the self-serving COVID-19 intervention contract amounting to N4,861,354,250.00 and received mobilization more than one week before the TV program.
The CSO insisted that Osmoserve was one of a self-serving company that was party to previous phoney contracts, wondering how such a discredited enterprise was being patronized this time.
“Sadly, Osmoserve Global Ltd should be under a stern flashlight of the forensic probe, having benefitted more than any other company in recent years in numerous emergency projects that brought the commission to its knees, yet the Interim Management made the same company its looting agent.
“After Osmoserve’s fraudulent contract award, official documents show that about four other companies were awarded COVID-19 related contracts and payments approved the same date except for a company that objected to unofficial terms advanced by the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
“The companies are AHR Global Standard Services Ltd (Batch no: 13662 & Vat no: 13664), awarded emergency procurement of social relief packs.
“Julius Dinga Nigeria Ltd (Batch no: 13656 & Vat no: 13658), awarded a contract for emergency consultancy for the provision of publicity on the prevention of the spread of coronavirus across the nine Niger Delta states. Tables and Buildings Nigeria Ltd (Batch no: 13659 & Vat no: 13660).
“For Osmoserve Global Ltd, an award was given for emergency supply and delivery of medical equipment and consumables to the NDDC warehouse.
“In the characteristic style of the present IMC, supply details and specifications are always not indicated in the award letter to frustrate the performance audit process.
“The letter of contract award claimed the medical equipment was meant for testing, treatment and care of COVID-19 cases.
“Transaction was initiated by Mr Effiong Henry, approved the same date by the Executive Director, Finance & Administration, Ibanga Basset Etang and got the final payment approval of the Acting MD, Prof Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, within half an hour, precisely on the 15th of April, 2020.
“The sum of Seven Hundred and Twenty-Nine Million, Two Hundred and Three Thousand, One Hundred and Thirty-Seven Naira, Fifty Kobo (729,203,137.50) was treated for payment.
“For verification, the details of the transaction from the TSA account are as follow: Batch no: 13593, Vat no: 13595 and Withholding Tax no: 13594. This can be verified by anyone.
“We hope the anti-corruption agencies will commence action immediately; we have made the job much easier by providing far-reaching details.
“Of note is the open confession of Dr Cairo that Presidential approval for the COVID-19 intervention projects would be communicated officially to the commission on Monday, 27th, April 2020.
“The implication is simple: the fraudulent management acted illegally in flagrant defiance to the Fiscal Responsibility Act, since contracts were awarded and money paid without lawful approval.
“This further exposes the level of desperation to loot the commission as the purported request for approval was sent to the President in retrospect.
“For every payment made, we have it on good authority that a topmost kingpin collects kickbacks ranging from 30 to 45 percent, depending on the status of the contract.
“For the past six months, it has been widely alleged that the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godwill Akpabio, has been using the forensic audit as a smokescreen to mop up the account of the agency.
“Nigerians should also note, the commission has squandered over Forty- Nine Billion naira ( $49B) in illegal payments in the last two months, most of which are in defiance to the Public Procurement Act yet Dr Cairo claimed the present Interim Management Committee is yet to award any contract.
“Today, dead fishes litter the Niger Delta coastline due to toxic releases of oil processing companies. The avenue for subsisting income for indigents has been wiped off which may lead to severe widespread hunger in the land.
“Shall we close our eyes to this mad fleece while people die in suffering?
“While the public space is awash with several allegations of corruption against the management, the All Progressive Congress, through its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, rose in cover for the Commission.
“Whereas it irresponsibly shows the Party is not on the same page with Mr President on his anti-corruption war, it will, nonetheless, be criminal to find it as an active group player in the ongoing looting of the NDDC.
They called on anti-graft agencies to wade into the activities of NDDC before things got out of hands.
“We call on the anti-corruption agencies to rise to the occasion to save whatever is left in the account of the commission.
“This serves as an SOS call to the National Assembly to act in the interest of the people. The time is now. The commission, as presently constituted, is like a rotten mackerel by moonlight, it shines and stinks.
“We call on The Ministry of Finance, CBN and the Accountant General Office to make public all NDDC transactions from the TSA account in the last two months.
When this correspondent called on the Spokesperson of the NDDC, Mr. Isene Ibanga, he neither picked his calls nor responded to text messages.