By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has disclosed that the reason it was invited to join the forensic firms contracted by the government to audit the activities of the NDDC was based on its determination to break the jinx of abandoned projects in the Niger Delta area and series of corruption allegations against contractors handling its projects.
The EFCC said that the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei, had called on the EFCC, to assist the firms contracted for the forensic audit of the NDDC by the Federal Government.
Acting Head, Media & Publicity, Tony Orilade in a statement on Thursday, said that Pondei made the request on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, during a courtesy visit to the Port Harcourt Zonal office of the EFCC.
The NDDC boss said, “the expertise of EFCC is needed for the Commission to look at cases of contract awarded and paid for but not executed.We have reports of projects awarded and paid for but not executed. There is need for us to work on these cases”.
The Niger Delta area, comprising all the South- South States, has been reeling under the weight of abandoned projects or poorly- executed contracts for a long time.
The NDDC boss noted that petitions, both genuine and frivolous, from communities on abandoned projects, have become a source of distraction to the management committee.
He, therefore, requested for a status report on all NDDC cases being investigated by the EFCC.
In his response, the EFCC Zonal Head, Mr Musa Usman Imam, described the visit by the NDDC team as remarkable, noting that it will go a long way in helping to bridge whatever gaps existed between the two agencies.
Congratulating the interim management committee on its appointment, Imam pointed out that its assignment appeared daunting in the face of extreme negative public perception of the agency.
He noted that when he assumed office as Zonal Head in Port Harcourt, he believed that NDDC was next to oil bunkering when it comes to corruption.
“I believe government is mindful of this negative image which is the reason for the appointment of the interim management committee and the institution of a forensic audit”, Imam said, urging the management to strive to change the perception by delivering on the mandate given to it by the President.
“I want to assure you that the Commission is willing to support you through the investigation of any alleged case of fraud. What we require from you is willingness to share information and trust in our ability to handle such cases with dispatch”, he stated.