A human rights lawyer, Godwin Ojeh, on Friday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to take steps to remove Godswill Akpabio as Minister of Niger Delta.
The lawyer said this in a personal letter to the President.
Ojeh said: “We passionately appeal to Your Excellency to curb the excesses of Mr. Akpabio by relieving him of ministerial duties of the Niger Delta. He has not been a good example for our people. The trending exchange of immoral accusations in the social media which focuses on the minister is a dent on the image of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
He also appealed to President Buhari to take necessary steps to end the corruption in the Niger Delta Development Commission by removing Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei and Cairo Ojuogboh from the Interim Management Committee.
He said: “It will also be a right step in the right direction to take necessary steps to end the corruption in NDDC by removing Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei and Cairo Ojuogboh from the Interim Management Committee.”
In the letter to President Buhari and Principal Officers of the National Assembly, Ojeh urged Buhari not to allow the NDDC to go the way of the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission.
He added: “It is no gain saying that if the Interim Management Committee continue to handle the affairs of the NDDC in the manner antithetical to the fight against corruption and lack of regards to constituted authority, the resultant effects on the on the Commission will be worse than the disgraceful image which destroyed its predecessor, the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC, whose name became synonymous with contract scam.”
Ojeh expressed his disappointment over the handling of the commission’s finances.
He said: “We identify with Your Excellency’s unprecedented stance against corruption and feel greatly concerned with the ways and manners the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC) is executing the important task given to it by Your Excellency. As concerned citizens from the indisputable volatile Niger Delta Area, we feel obliged to express our disappointment on the reckless attitude of the members of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).”
He emphasised the objectives of the National Assembly Investigative Hearing, adding: “The people of the Niger Delta Area strongly believe that the inquiries of the Senate and the House of Representatives adhoc committees are to remove the negative factors that may compromise the NDDC’s noble mission in the lives of the Niger Delta people. Also, we believe that the investigative hearings of the lower and upper chambers of the National Assembly will have the resultant effect of ensuring that the enormous sums of money appropriated to the NDDC over the years are appropriately accounted for by those who have the responsibility to manage the essential public trust put in their care.”
The Edo State-based lawyer said the ongoing probe of the expenditure of the IMC) of the NDDC was not a witch-hunt, adding: “It is worrisome that the Interim Management Committee has perfected the acts of frustrating the major purpose for which it was set up. For instance, the Interim Management Committee which ought to encourage the National Assembly’s resolve and efforts to shed light on the alleged squandering of the whooping sum of N40billion (Forty Billion Naira) within a period of 3 (three months is ‘crying foul’ that the legislative inquiries are designed to ‘witch-hunt’ its members and associates.”
Ojeh pointed out that the NDDC was not the personal estate of the Minister of Niger Delta and members of the Interim Management Committee.
He said: “Your Excellency, it is a general/common knowledge in the public domain that the mandate of the Interim Management Committee include the creation of an ‘enabling environment’ for the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and revival of the Niger Delta Development Commission and get it to work for the good of the Niger Delta Region and its people.”
He described the walk out from the sittings of the National Assembly inquiries by the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC, led by Pondei, on Thursday as a big setback for the current fight against corruption in public offices.
He said: “The walk out from the sittings of the National Assembly Inquiries by the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC led by Pondei on Thursday, July 16, 2020 is a big setback for the current fight against corruption in public offices. It was a blatant disregard for the rule of law in a country that is at the forefront of good governance and accountability in Africa. We expected the Interim Management Committee led by Pondei to take the centre stage in the fight against corruption and abuse of public funds but it appears the members of the Interim Management Committee embarked upon the latest charade in a vain attempt to deflect attention from allegation of fraud, stealing and looting of funds in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).”
The legal luminary urged President Buhari not to allow the NDDC to go the way of the defunct OMPADEC.
He said: “It is pertinent that Your Excellency must make it clear in words and conduct that NDDC is not the personal property of the Minister of Niger Delta and members of the Interim Management Committee. The oversight function of the National Assembly as it relates to the NDDC should be encouraged and not rubbished as attempted by the Interim Management Committee. It is hurtful to dismiss accountability, probity and transparency issues in the NDDC.
“Mr. President, we reiterate our commitment in sharing your vision that the country belongs to us all and must not be destroyed by the few gang members that thrives on corruption.”