PANDEF, INC, FNM, others to Tinubu: act on NDDC forensic audit report

Port Harcourt—Stakeholders in the Niger Delta have asked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to act on the forensic audit report of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Nation newspaper reports.

The stakeholders–Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF); Ijaw National Congress (INC); Future Nigeria Movement (FNM) and others said those who plundered the commonwealth of their region should not be shielded.

According to them, it would amount to an act of injustice and a waste of billions of naira used in conducting the audit without bringing those indicted to justice.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the audit of the commission from 2001 to 2019

In 2021, the report of the investigation was submitted to by Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who was then Niger Delta Affairs minister.

No action was taken on the report till the former President ended his tenure on May 29.

The stakeholders yesterday said that making the forensic audit public would serve as deterrent to others.

INC President Prof. Benjamin Okaba, who urged the Federal Government to publish the report, noted that in an ideal situation, the names of persons, who allegedly plundered the commission, should be published.

He expressed confidence that the Tinubu administration will muster the courage and act on the report.

He said: “In an ideal situation, names of those, who allegedly plundered the commission should be published. But in reality, can that be done? In the circumstances that we find ourselves in this country, can that be done?

“Normally, if you say you have an audit report, you should publish the report. An audit is to examine where things went wrong and you have to correct them.

“And how do you correction when in the first place, you are unable to identify the persons who must have been involved in some infractions? Is it possible?

“Even the audit generally should have been a template for people to learn from. Where did the previous administration go wrong and what do we do moving toward, that is the essence of an audit.

“Also, auditing of the NDDC or any other government parastatals should be a routine business. You don’t need to suspend a board before you carry out an audit.”

PANDEF’s Publicity Secretary, Rev. Ken Robinson, said the report, though not made public was riddled with fallacies.

He said when the idea of the forensic audit was mooted in 2019, the group supported the idea as it was expected to bring about greater transparency in the management of the interventionist body.

He urged President Tinubu to interrogate the forensic audit before taking a decision on whether to make it public or not.

He said: “For PANDEF, it will be unnecessary to call for call for a release of the report.

“Rather we insist that the forensic audit be interrogated and not to be calling for a report that was not properly done in the first place.

“We want the presidency and the incoming board to depart from the status quo,depart from business as usual in how the affairs of NDDC has been conducted in the past. And ensure and ensure that they put the interest and development of the region as top priority.”

The FNM also called on Tinubu to publish the report in keeping with the pledge by the federal government to bring probity to the commission.

Its leader Livingstone Wechie, said: “It is our view that trillions of Naira cannot be stolen by certain persons who turned the commission to a cash cow thus derailing from the core mandate of the NDDC without legal consequences.

“The integrity of this administration may be questioned and brought to disrepute if it toes the path of the last administration, which conducted the forensic audit yet made the report a secret without justification.

“If the NDDC must work and the Niger Delta must be carried along effectively under this administration, the publication of that forensic audit report will be a game changer, restore transparency which is a panacea for true development.

“We must remind President that he must do the needful no matter the blackmail or persuasion to do otherwise to ensure that the much televised famous probe and the advertised malfeasance in that Commission is not thrown away without justice.

“This is because we are talking about public funds and the touchstone being the development of a critical region such as the Niger Delta.

“Mr. President must not disappoint the region by upholding the corrupt antecedents of the last regime which shielded the destroyers of the Commission among others.

“It is our view that the necessary standards must be set on fiscal justice to guarantee sustainability of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu in this regard.”

CENTREP National Coordinator, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi, said President Tinubu should have ordered that the forensic audit be made public before constituting the new board.

He urged the President to “dust the forensic report and make it public so that Niger-Deltans will be convinced that he means business.”

Ikimi maintained that persons found culpable should be prosecuted.

Ex-President of Isoko Development Union (IDU), Chief Idu Amadhe, expressed doubt that the forensic audit would see the light of the day, stressing that those responsible for corruption in the interventionist agency are still in government.

According to him, the persons indicted in the probe will frustrate efforts to make it public.

He said: “The forensic audit cannot work because the person’s majorly indicted were members of House of Representatives and Senators. They will not take it seriously because their political allies are involved.”

Sir Amorighoye Mene, who spoke for the Itsekhiri Leaders of Thought (ILoT), urged President Tinubu to order a release of the audit report to name and shame culprits who had contributed to the underdevelopment of the region.

The ILoT scribe noted that making the audit report public would act as a deterrent to public officers, “who think the NDDC is a place for slush funds to pursue their political ambitions.”

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