The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties and a coalition of Civil Society Organisations have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to do the needful by suspending the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engr. Simbi Wabote, over building allegations bordering on corruption and abuse of office against him.
The groups made the demand for Wabote’s suspension when they addressed a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.
The National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, alongside the Secretary of the Coalition of CSOs, Alhaji Ali Abacha, addressed the news conference on behalf of the CNPP and CSOs.
They called on anti-graft agencies to investigate allegations against the NCDMB boss.
The CNPP and CSOs noted that they are worried that the allegations and the controversy surrounding the ongoing libel suit initiated by the NCDMB Executive Secretary in a United States District Court against a Nigerian journalist based in the United States are constituting a big distinction for the agency.
According to them, it is more worrisome as the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria upbraided the management of the NCDMB under Wabote over alleged breach of local content laws being carried out by an Italian Multinational Oil Field Services Company, SAIPEM.
SAIPEM is serving as the principal contractor involved in executing Nigeria’s $10 billion Train 7 gas project.
The Senate Committee on Local Content, chaired by the representative of Oyo Central Senatorial District, Teslim Folarin, had summoned the management of the NCDMB sequel to a petition against SAIPEM for alleged violations of local content laws in the execution of the $10 billion gas project contract.
The Coalition said: “While we hold no brief for any of the two, we are particularly concerned as to why Engr. Wabote has continued to remain in office despite damning allegations of abuse his office, corruption and now allegation of perjury against the Executive Secretary both in Nigeria and in the United States.
“He has continued to engage in the alleged abuse of office by apparently using NCDMB or so it seems to handle his legal battle in the U.S., particularly using the Board of NCDMB and it’s spokesperson to issue media release in a case he is suing as an individual in his personal capacity.
“We have cause to ask the said public office holder to tell Nigerians how he pays his legal fees in the USA if he is not using public fund as alleged.
“To the best of our knowledge, the NCDMB is not joined in the defamation suit against the journalist, which is pending in the U.S court and should not be responding for Engr. Wabote in the media.
“In the same vein, it is our view that it is also wrong for Engr. Wabote to continue to enjoy the perks of office and obviously using public funds to fund his legal issue or associated issues.”
Insisting that it will take legal actions against Wabote if he remained in office after their earlier 21-day ultimatum against the NCDMB boss to clear his name in the US Court over perjury allegations against him, the Coalition accused the Executive Secretary of retaining his name as a Director in a company he founded before his appointment.
It further said: “Information in the public domain alleges that prior to joining politics, Engr. Wabote worked as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TEE AND T CONCEPTS NIGERIA LIMITED, which was incorporated in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria with Registration Number 419331.
“It was registered on 13th of July, 2001 with company’s registered office address as NO.7, INGBIROAD, AMARATA, YENEGOA, BAYELSA STATE.
“This is a position which he allegedly continued to retain throughout his time in office as a public servant till date which we think President Muhammadu Buhari should direct an investigation.
“Section 172 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) enjoins all persons in the public service to conform to the Code of Conduct.
“According to the allegations, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote has contravened the laws as stated above if the allegations are established.
“Till date, as alleged the affiliated company, TEE AND T CONCEPTS NIGERIA LIMITED with address above, has as directors: Sotonye Wabote (Director), Simbi Kesiye Wabote (Director) and has as bankers – Zenith Bank (Account Number: 1013755048) and Fidelity Bank (Numbers 4010268127) and the company is still operational.”
Calling on President Buhari and relevant anti-graft agencies to wade into and investigate the matter, the Coalition said: “We therefore urge the EFCC and the CCB to immediately investigate the financial statements/transactions of TEE AND T CONCEPTS NIGERIA LIMITED to ascertain the extent of Engr. Wabote’s involvement or otherwise in the running of this private company with interest in landing state contracts either directly or via proxy companies and acquiring compensation in form of business transaction.
“The award of contracts/projects to the company may have been influenced by ENGR. WABOTE SIMBI KESIYE using his office as an Executive Secretary of the NIGERIAN CONTENT DEVELOPMENT AND MONITORING BOARD (NCDMB), a government entity that works directly and closely with contracts/contractors, as well as performing regulatory functions for projects in the oil and gas industry.
“The anti-graft agencies are called upon to investigate Suspected Payments as the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2011 (as amended) provides for procedures for customer due diligence, reporting requirements, offences and penalties. Section 15 (2) clearly stipulates the offence of money laundering.
“We hereby call on our anti-corruption institutions like the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to immediately investigate Wabote’s foreign accounts if he has and if he hasn’t, why did he seek the court’s order not to make disclosure on foreign bank accounts?
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately suspend Engr. Simbi Wabote from office as the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board until the conclusion of the investigation by the EFCC and the CCB.
“This has become very necessary as Engr. Wabote’s continues stay in office may undermine justice even in the matter he reportedly filed in the USA.
“Due to the international dimension of the case as a result of the ongoing legal battle between Engr. Wabote and the United States based journalist, it has become expedient that President Muhammadu Buhari gives teeth to his administration’s anti-corruption war by ordering the immediate suspension of Engr. Wabote and a thorough investigation of allegations of corruption and abuse of office against him.
“We also reiterate that the 21-day ultimatum issued by the CNPP and a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs), demanding the resignation of Engr. Wabote subsists.
“At the expiration of the ultimatum and Engr. Wabote is still in office, we shall be left with no choice to begin other legal process, including occupying the office of the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board until he leaves office, a court action, among others.”