EFCC acknowledges petition to probe Akpabio, Pondei

A petition requesting the probe of Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, and Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei has been received by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency invited a group, Foundation for True Freedom and Good Governance, and adopted the petition today (Thursday).

Agency officials said, adoption of the petition is a standard practice to enable the commission to verify the signatories before, commencement of investigation of the allegations against the two public officers bordering on alleged diversion of public funds.

The Senate Ad Hoc Committee headed by Sen. Olubunmi Adetumbi, which investigated the NDDC activities, said it uncovered mismanagement of N81.5 billion.

The invitation of the group, being coordinated by activist Deji Adeyanju,  was contained in a letter, 3000/EFCC/ABJ/HQ/EG/T.6/Vol4/044, which was signed by the Head, Economic Governance Section, Adebayo Adeniyi.

The letter reads:  ”We write to acknowledge the receipt of your petition dated August 3, 2020 in respect of the above subject and to inform you that investigation into the case has commenced.

“In view of the above, you are kindly requested to attend an interview with the undersigned through the O/C team six on Thursday, August 20, 2020 at the EFCC headquarters third floor.”

A top source in the commission said: “The EFCC has got a petition against the two public officers. This agency  is ready to look into the allegations on the condition that the petition must be adopted. We do not want a situation where a petition will be dumped on us without knowing those behind it.

“There are preliminary steps we msut take before we begin the investigation of allegations against public officers. We will meet with the leaders of the group on Thursday to undertake these procedures before we know whether the petition has merit.”

”It is unfortunate that the letter of invitation sent to the group has become a political issue. Irrespective of the circumstances, we will do our job professionally.”

Although Akpabio had been undergoing probe by EFCC on his tenure as the governor of Akwa Ibom State, this is the first time the EFCC has received a petition on alleged fraud in NDDC.

The Senate Committee had indicted NDDC of financial recklessness.

The Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, in his report, said the  Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) spent N81.5billion in eight months.

He said  the amount was contained  in the submission of the IMC to the Ad hoc Committee.

He said  IMC 1, which was then  chaired by Ms Gbene Joi Nunieh between October 2019 and February 18, 2020, spent f N22.5billion out of the N81.5billion.

He said IMC II, chaired by Professor Pondei between February 19, 2020 and  May 31st 2020 expended N59.1billion.

He said budgeting was not entrenched in NDDC.

He said the committee discovered a “significant level of contract spitting by the management of the agency.

“This may have been done to lower the approval threshold, thereby avoiding control measures that would have queried the transactions,” he said.

He said NDDC’s use of financial asset must be refocused and that its record of external audit appeared to be weak and insignificant.

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