The corruption scandal rocking the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has taken a new twist with the commission releasing shocking information which appears to implicate a Nigerian senator in a N3.6 billion contract fraud.
NDDC, in a statement by its spokesperson, Charles Odili, on Sunday, said Peter Nwaoboshi, a serving senator, used 11 companies as fronts to secure for himself N3.6 billion contract in September 2016.
Mr Odili said, in the statement, that the contract was the “biggest single case of looting of the Commission’s resources”.
Mr Nwaoboshi is a Peoples Democratic Party senator representing Delta North District, Delta State. He is the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Niger Delta and the NDDC.
The disclosure from the NDDC management is a response, apparently, to a revelation by Mr Nwaoboshi a few days ago that Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, had inserted N500 million worth of projects for himself in the 2017 budget of the NDDC while he was the Senate minority leader.
Mr Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom state, represented Akwa Ibom North-West District in the eighth Senate. Apart from being a minority leader, Mr Akpabio was a member of the Senate Committee on NDDC at the time.
There have been corruption accusations and counter-accusations between the Senate and Mr Akpabio for some months now.
The rift between the two heightened when the Senate and the House of Representatives passed a resolution in May to probe the allegation that the NDDC’s Interim Management Committee squandered N40 billion within three months.
Mr Akpabio claims that the people who are after him are those who are against the planned forensic audit of the NDDC.
As the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Akpabio supervises the NDDC.
The commission, by the statement it has issued, is obviously siding with Mr Akpabio against Mr Nwaoboshi and the Senate.
“We believe that until Senator Nwaoboshi can absolve himself of his role in the looting of the resources of the Commission, he should step aside from any investigative activity against the Commission,” the NDDC said in the statement.
The NDDC said it has searched through its records and that there was no evidence the commission awarded any contract to Mr Akpabio or any company associated with him.
“From our findings, the person who has questions to answer to the Niger Delta People is Senator Nwaoboshi,” the commission said in the statement.
The NDDC listed the 11 companies which it said Senator Nwaoboshi allegedly used to get the N3.6 billion contract as follows:
i. Noan Integrated Services;about:blank
ii. De Towers Constructions & Allied Services Ltd;
iii. Franstine Nigeria Enterprises;
iv. Edrihide Company;
v. Isumabe U.K. Global;
vi. Benchmark Construction & Allied Services Ltd
vii. Millstone Allied Builders Ltd.;
viii. Nelpat Nigeria Company;
ix. Agh-Rown Ventures;
x. Edendoma Stars International; and
xi. Antlers Construction and Allied Works Ltd.
PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately confirm the ownership of the companies.
The commission’s statement did not, however, mention whether the N3.6 billion contract was a single contract or whether there were multiple contracts awarded to the 11 companies.
“The inventory records show that these items were supplied and received on Senator Nwaoboshi’s business premises and warehouse.
“However, some of the items supplied to Nwaoboshi’s warehouse through his cronies, were later resold to the Delta state government, while the others were sold to other states through contracts awarded to him.
“All supply agreements were signed by one and the same person being Mr. Agbamuche Nelson, traceable to Senator Nwaoboshi.
“This is in flagrant contravention of section 58(4) (a) and (d) of the Public Procurement Act. No wonder Sen. Nwaoboshi and his cohorts are jittery about the ongoing forensic audit exercise in the NDDC and are doing everything possible to derail it,” the statement said.
The disclosure by the NDDC management could very well be an indictment on the commission itself, as it raises questions on its own procurement process, as well as a confirmation of the belief held by many Nigerians that the commission is one of the most corrupt federal agencies in Nigeria and has served no real value to the people of the oil-rich region.
Mr Akpabio in October 2019 said the NDDC was so corrupt that people were treating it like an ATM “where you just walk in there to go and pluck money and go away”.
The disclosure by the NDDC could also be a signal that Mr Akpabio is ready for a long, dirty fight with the Senate, which he was once part of.
Mr Nwaoboshi told PREMIUM TIMES, Monday morning, that the NDDC’s statement was merely an attempt to distract the public from the main issue which is the National Assembly’s probe of the N40 billion corruption allegation against the interim management of the commission.
Mr Nwaoboshi said the NDDC’s statement is an indictment on the commission itself, since “a senator does not award a contract”.
The claims made by the commission, the senator said, are false. He said he has no relationship with the 11 companies mentioned by NDDC and that he has not had any contract with the Delta State government since 2014 before he became a senator nor has he ties with any company that has received contracts from the Delta government.
PREMIUM TIMES asked the senator about his relationship with Agbamuche Nelson whom the NDDC said has been working as a front for him.
“He (Agbamuche Nelson) has issued a statement long ago, it is not for me to reply for him. He has told people that he is a Nigerian and has been doing contracts for NDDC since 2012,” the senator responded.
“I don’t award contracts. They are only indicting themselves.
“It is a desperate attempt to save Akpabio. My allegation that Akpabio asked for N500million contracts is unchallenged. I say it again and again, Akpabio wrote to me to include N500 million contracts (in the NDDC budget) for him. The letter is there. All this one they are dancing around, trying to save Akpabio is a waste of effort.”
On the NDDC’s demand that he excludes himself from any panel that is investigating the commission, Mr Nwaoboshi said, “I am not even a member of the ad hoc committee that is investigating their financial recklessness”.