The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has named former governors of Delta State James Ibori and Emmanuel Uduaghan, former Governor of Abia State Orji Uzor Kalu and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as beneficiaries of the corruption at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
During a House committee hearing on July 20, 2020, Akpabio had disclosed that lawmakers are the biggest beneficiaries of the corruption that has become the story of the NDDC.
Gbajabiamila had then asked the minister to produce the names of the lawmakers within 48 hours or face the full wrath of the law.
In a document attached to his response to the ultimatum by the House of Representatives, Akpabio listed senators who received 74 contracts from the commission between 2017 to date.
That document, as it turns out, also contained the names of former governors from the country’s oil-rich delta region.
The letter which was also copied to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice, was addressed to the Clerk to the House, Mr Patrick Giwa, with Reference Number MNDA/HM/04/IV/158.
It was titled, ‘Some Niger Delta Development Commission Contracts Allegedly Given to Some Members of the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives).’
The emergency repairs projects linked to them, according to the document obtained by newsmen, were awarded in 2018 at a cost ranging from N400m and N560m each.
One of the projects linked to Ibori was the emergency repairs of Onoghove community road from Ajanesan to Western Delta University at the cost of N485.7m.
Uduaghan was linked to the emergency repairs of Close B, Alhaji Estate & Environs, Rumuodomaya, Port Harcourt at the cost of N429m.
Five projects were linked to Senate Chief Whip Kalu, who was identified in the document as OUK-Kalu.
The emergency repairs on road projects linked to Kalu are in Abia State, and the costs ranged from N517m to N560m.
The details are: emergency repairs of Ezere-Acha-Ndiokoukwu Road (N517.9m) and repairs of Amaubiri-Eluama-Uru Ring Road, Lokpaukwu, Umuchieze (N560m).
Others linked to Kalu are Ndi Oji Abam-Atan Road (N523.7m), Okafia-Ozuitem-Bende road (508m), and the Ozu-Amuru-Abam Road at the cost of N523.4m.
The cost of the 12 projects linked to Senator Ararume, which are located in Imo and Rivers States, were not listed in the documents.
Some of the projects linked to Ararume include emergency repairs of Umuelemai-Aba branch road, Anara-Okwelle-Umuna Road, Okpara-Road junction-Ogili Community; all in Imo State.
Ibori, who governed Delta State from 1999 to 2007, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering at London’s Southwark Crown Court in 2012 and was sentenced to 13 years behind bars.
After serving half of his sentence in pre-and post-trial detention, Ibori was released from jail in December 2016 and is now back in Nigeria, dictating who governs his state and senatorial district at every election cycle.
Uduaghan, an Ibori political benefactor and ally, was Delta governor from 2007 to 2015.
Kalu, who governed Abia State from 1999 to 2007, was recently found guilty and jailed by a federal high court for diverting N7.65 billion from the state’s treasury during his stint in office.
The Supreme Court overturned Kalu’s conviction, citing technicality discrepancies.
The NDDC which was established in 2000 to bridge the developmental and infrastructure gap in an oil-rich but impoverished Niger Delta region, has been mired in corruption and allegations of endemic graft.
Trillions of Naira have found their way into the coffers of the NDDC since it was set up, with very little to show on the ground.
President Muhammadu Buhari has bemoaned the abuse of trust by political leaders of the region.
“There has been abuse of trust by people trusted by previous administration and this administration,” the president said. “A number of assets have been recovered and some money.
“But we have introduced TSA where all the monies are taken and I said assets should be sold and the money be put through TSA so that it can be identified at any level; and I will see who will come after us and take it back again to those who misappropriated public funds.”