Delta lawmaker, Peter Nwaoboshi, has dared the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, on the list of lawmakers who allegedly got contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Akpabio had, on Sunday, released the names of some federal lawmakers involved.
He listed Nwaoboshi against 53 projects.
Some of the projects include emergency repairs of Asue Street, Owa Phase 2; Idumuogbe Road via Ojemaye; Otolokpo College Road, Otolokpo; and the Police Ishu Ani Ukwu Road, Issele Uku.
Akpabio also listed two other senators. He said Matthew Urhoghide got six projects, James Manager got six contracts while a former senator, Samuel Anyanwu, got 19 projects.
The former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on the NDDC, Nicholas Mutu, was also named by the minister as receiving 74 contracts – the highest among the listed lawmakers.
Some of the projects are emergency roads in Delta, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers states.
A few others were simply identified as Ondo and Edo Reps.
This was in response to the threat issued by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, to sue the minister for alleged defamation of character.
Akpabio in a hearing with the House panel alleged that the majority of the contracts in the NDDC were given out to members of the National Assembly but was challenged by Gbajabiamila to name the lawmakers involved in the scandal within 48 hours.
The minister earlier retracted his claim saying his reference was not to current lawmakers of the ninth assembly.
But reacting to the list released by the minister, Nwaoboshi, said the allegation has no bearing with the truth. He challenged Akpabio to send the “so-called list to anti-graft and other security agencies if he can substantiate the apparently baseless allegation.”
Nwaoboshi who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, said he would not make further comments on the matter because it is currently before two competent courts of law.
“However, suffice it to say that this unsubstantiated allegation is in line with Akpabio’s well-known agenda to continuously blackmail me so as to keep diverting public attention away from the serious mismanagement of the NDDC by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) under his supervision and under the guise of a phantom forensic audit that has no operating timeline,” part of his statement read.
Nwaoboshi, who is already facing a two-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering instituted by the EFCC, further advised Akpabio and the IMC to focus their energy on explaining to Nigerians how they spent a whopping N81.5b within five months.
The revelations of reckless spending by the NDDC, he said, are just a tip of the mind-boggling and reckless payments running into billions of naira paid by the IMC members to themselves and expended with the approval of Akpabio on mundane and useless projects that have no developmental impact on the life and livelihood of the Niger Delta people as envisioned by the founding fathers of the NDDC.
This is even as he asked Akpabio and his IMC to apologise to the Niger Delta people in particular and Nigerians in general for this grand wastage arising from their crass incompetence.
“As a realist, I am confident that a day will come when Akpabio and his IMC will have a date with the law,” he said.
In a separate statement, Manager said his tenure as chairman of Niger Delta committee in the Senate effectively ended in 2015 and that he has never visited NDDC headquarters in Portharcourt or any of its branches since then.
He said the NDDC never awarded any contract to any company owned by him.
“I do not know of any company owned by me that has ever gone into bidding of government jobs anywhere in the world. (This may come to many as a surprise but this is the gospel truth).
“Those who are alleging to defame me must be aware of the consequences,” part of the statement read.
He, therefore, demanded that in the interest of the public, the NDDC provides a detailed description of the said jobs, names of companies, payments already made and to whom?, job performance and the directors as they appear in the Corporate Affairs Commission.
When contacted, Sam Anyawu said he would hold a press briefing on Tuesday. Matthew Urhoghide and Nicholas Mutiu could not be reached via phone.
This controversy comes days after the Senate resolved to investigate allegations of corruption levelled by the NDDC against some lawmakers.
The Senate gave its committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions four weeks to probe the allegations made by the management of the NDDC and Akpabio.
Both the House and the Senate have been investigating alleged misappropriation of funds and financial recklessness in the commission.