Sat. Sep 19th, 2020

· Akpabio, Ex-NDDC Managing Director on war path

· Lawyer seeks probe of spurious contracts

· writes Senate President, Speaker, others

· Tasks Buhari on the fight against corruption

By Henry Ebireri

A legal practitioner, Mr. Ojeh Godwin, has lamented what he called flagrant abuse of statutory procedure and due process, calling for an urgent investigation of the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

‘’It is disheartening that the leadership of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which was supposedly set up to restore sanity and rescue the body has taken over the same acts of corruption and fraudulent transactions with which the erstwhile leadership of the Commission were alleged. The Interim Management Committee which came on board and confidently accused the past leadership of the NDDC of lacklustre performance, abandoned projects, poor project delivery and so on is now enmeshed in acts of pervasive corruption, blatant illegality, flagrant abuse of power and flagrant abuse of statutory procedure and due process’’

He particularly accused former Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh of throwing caution to the winds.

‘’It is saddening that Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh, Ag EDP of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, the Ag. EDFA of the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC, Mr. Ibanga Bassey and other members of the Management Team of the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC who are to oversee the forensic audit of the NDDC as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari, in a spate of few months in office have done nothing but to betray the trust reposed in them. Rather than stemming or exposing the corruption they had accused their predecessors of, they had thrown caution to the winds and don the toga of corruption to perpetrate fraudulent acts and abuse of laid down statutory procedure under the NDDC Act and Public Procurement Act. The so much acclaimed contract verification Committee led then by Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Mr. Ibanga Bassey and other members of the Management team approved the sums of money to the tune of over N4billion on spurious contracts in the name of supplying “Maternity Delivery Kits”, “Cholera Vaccines”, “Lassa Fever Kits” and “Outstanding Science Equipment’’.

In a petition to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and others, the Benin based lawyer accused Nunieh of dispensing fund not captured under any budgetary allocation/appropriation.

‘’It is pertinent to state at the outset that Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh, Ag. EDP of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, the Ag EDFA of the Interim Management Committee, Mr. Ibanga Bassey and other members of the Management Team unilaterally approved huge sums of payments without any prior budgetary appropriation. This is reflected in the Memo dated January 17, 2020 where they directed the approval and also directed that the Summarised Information on the Health and Education Projects listed in a Memo dated 3rd December, 2019 and January 10, 2020 be treated for payment. They did this despite the fact that the Memo dated January 17, 2020 clearly stated that “The programmes have already been awarded and supplied”, and that “some of the items have already been distributed”. In fact, they overruled the professional advice of a top official (the DPRS) of the NDDC, who stated on the Memo that “The request is for inclusion in 2020 budget and not for payment”. This singular act of theirs was in direct conflict with the provisions of section 16(1) (b) of the Public Procurement Act which provides as follows: “(1) Subject to any exemption allowed by this Act, all public procurement shall be conducted: (b) based only on procurement plans supported by prior budgetary appropriations and no procurement proceedings shall be formalised until the procuring entity has ensured that funds are available to meet the obligations and subject to the threshold in the regulations made by the Bureau, has obtained a ”Certificate of No Objection to contract Award “from the Bureau” In the instant case, there was no budgetary appropriation and there was no Certificate of No Objection to back up the payments made. All the payments so made are detailed below. The Memos referred to above which speak for themselves are annexed herewith as ANNEXURE A, B and C’’.

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Titled: Petition against Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh, the former acting managing director/chief executive officer, interim management committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, the acting executive director (Projects) interim management committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Ibanga Bassey, the acting executive director (Finance and Administration) interim management committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission and other management members of the interim management committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission for fraudulent misappropriation of public funds, contract splitting, payment of money for non-existing contract, unauthorised payment beyond official capacity, Godwin Ojeh said the Interim Management of the Niger Delta Commission had carried out several surreptitious and selective payments on nonexistence emergency contracts.

‘’Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Mr. Ibanga Bassey and other members of the Management team of the Interim Management Committee had carried out several surreptitious and selective payments on spurious/ non-existence emergency contracts which are in direct conflict with and antithetical to the campaign against corrupt practices in public offices by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is so in that, there was no time that any public announcement was made to allow for bidding for the said “contracts”. This is a contravention of the provisions of section 16(1) (c) and (d) of the Public Procurement Act which provides as follows: “Subject to any exception allowed by this Act, all public procurement shall be conducted: (c) by open competitive bidding. (d) In a manner which is transparent, timely, equitable for ensuring accountability and conformity with this Act and regulations deriving there from”

He said payments were made to Pear Medical Support Services (357,437,500.00 – First Bank (FBN) Account No: 2034259777), Signora Concepts Ltd- N357437, 500.00 -First Bank (FBN) Account No; 20342732267) and T & N Ltd – N357, 437,500.00 (UBA Account No; 0121112544.

Ojeh Godwin listed Cremes Ltd (21000 Lassa Fever Protective Kits –TSA/Pro/20/01/0006 –N857, 850,000 – FBN Account No; 2014316595, A & G Int. Ltd (100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area – TSA/Pro/20/01/0004 – N47,166,787.50 –Zenith Bank Account Number 1014628310, Bukadi Global Services (100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area – TSA/Pro/20/01/0005 – N47,166,787.50 – Fidelity Account Number 5080021292, Ceeone Pharmacy Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0006 –N47,166,787.50 – Polaris Account Number 1770953450, Chloe Capital & Business Support -(100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area – TSA/Pro/20/01/0007- N47,166,787.50 –GTB Account Number 0139522300, Cremes Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0008 – N47,166,787,50 – FBN Account Number 2034782183), Deltafric Concepts ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0009 –N47,166,787.50 – Polaris Account Number 4091179628, Dotu Solutions Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0010 –N47,166,787.50 – Unity Bank Account Number 0085504, Duxter Services Ltd( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0011 –N47,166,787.50 – GTB Account 0089040175, Falconwood Nig Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0012 –N47,166,787.50 –Unity Bank Account Number 0028812258, Guaco Light Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0013 –N47,166,787.50 –UBA Account 1014623098, Jeog Logistics Nig Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0014 –N47,166,787.50 – Access Bank Account 0045147182, Lloyds Capital & Business Support Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0015 –N47,166,787.50 – Access Bank Account 0801084201 and Madinagreen Nig Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0016 –N47,166,787.50 – Wema Bank Account 0122807400 as companies used to indicate supply of Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Region.

He also listed Manson Global Healthcare Services ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0017 –N47,166,787.50 –FBN Account Number 2033000398, Master Builder Nig Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0018 –N47,166,787.50 –Unity Bank Account Number 008303813, Otams Services Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0019 –N47,166,787.50 – FCMB Account Number 3031833017, Path Stones & Logistics Nig Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0020 –N47,166,787.50 – Ecobank Account Number 0432008716, Pearl Clinics & Maternity Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0021 –N47,166,787.50 – FCMB Account Number 5279674010, Signora Concepts Services Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0023 –N47,166,787.50 – FBN Account Number 2014079850, Squrepyram ID Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0024 –N47,166,787.50 – Zenith Bank Account Number 1015601833 and Switch Original Ltd ( 100 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Area –TSA/Pro/20/01/0025 –N47,166,787.50 – Fidelity Bank Account Number 4010298726 as other companies used to indicate supply of Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the region.

He expressed displeasure over the activities of the Interim Management Committee.

‘’Rather than follow due process statutorily laid down under the enabling law, the Interim Management Committee led by Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh and Mr. Ibanga Bassey simply raised an Internal Memo in which it gave summary of contract awards and their various stages including the names of the beneficiaries companies and the contract sum’’.

Ojeh Godwin said the actions of Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh in making payments for non-existing contract were tantamount to fraud in the public service.

‘’Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Mr. Ibanga Bassey and other members of their Management team of the did not apply for and obtained the requisite “Certificate of No Objection to Contract Award” from the Bureau of Public Procurement as required under the law. In this wise, the enabling Public Procurement Act in its section 16 (1) (b) directs as follows: “Subject to any exception allowed by this Act, all public procurement shall be conducted: (b)“…based only on procurement plans supported by prior budgetary appropriations, and no procurement proceedings shall be formalized until the procuring entity has ensured that funds are available to meet the obligation and subject to the threshold in the regulations made by the Bureau, has obtained a “Certificate of ‘No Objection to Contract Award from the Bureau.”

He emphasized that the Interim Management Committee in many instances paid sums of money beyond the bench mark of its official capacity.

‘’The Interim Management Committee under the leadership of Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh and Mr. Ibanga Bassey in many instances had paid sums of money beyond the benchmark of its official capacity. For instance, on 22 January, 2020 the sum of N857,850.00 was paid into the First Bank of Nigeria Account No: 2104316595 of Cremes Ltd for the supply of Lassa Fever Protective Kits. On same date the sum of N357,437,500.00 were paid separately to Pear Medical Support Services, Signora Concepts Ltd and T&N Ltd. Meanwhile, the limit of money that the Committee can approve after following all the due process is N250 Million.

Ojeh also cited instances of gross violation of the Public Procurement Act.

‘’Prior to the setting up of the Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh led Interim Management Committee, on May 3, 2019, Prof. Nelson Braimbaifa led board of the NDDC wrote to the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, vide NDDC/BPP/EP16/2019/02/01, seeking ratification of 205 emergency contracts awarded in the 4th quarter of 2016, for the total sum of N81,271,015,478. In reaction, on May 8, 2019, the BPP responded vide BPP/S.1/CID/19/Vol.I/215 and rejected the request, declared the action illegal and spelled out the consequences to the Accounting Officer for authorizing such actions. The NDDC management at the material time was advised to make detailed records available to enable the Bureau make an informed decision on the request. Interestingly, the same Emergency contracts which the BPP rejected and described as “fraudulent and illegal,” has been approved and paid for by the Interim management Committee of the NDDC, consisting of Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Mr. Ibanga Bassey and other members of the Management team. As a result, the Interim Management Committee has made various payments to contractors in contravention of the Public Procurement Act’’.

He said the Commission paid N607,445,026 to Atamu Const Ltd (UBN Account Number 0067379672), N623,053,818 to Franez Nig Ltd (UBN Account 0045358643), N607,114,818 to Rill Oil Services Ltd (Zenith Account 1016082718), N655,471,044 to Simoka Marine Ltd (First Bank of Nigeria Account 2018520972) and N445, 686, 266 on December 3, 2019 to Rodnab Construction Ltd ( Zenith Account 1013906383).

‘’As a concerned Nigerian and indigene of the Niger Delta Area, I humbly bring the above detailed infraction of the laws to your attention and urge you to use your good offices to investigate this complaint/ petition’’ he added..

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