The Federal Government, on Thursday, vowed to conduct a criminal investigation into the N6 trillion investments carried out by the Niger Delta Development Commission as well as the newly discovered 362 bank accounts that lack proper reconciliation.
This is just as it expressed concerns that the 13,777 projects being handled by the commission might have been “substantially compromised.”
This much was revealed by Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, while receiving the forensic audit report of the NDDC from the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, in Abuja on Thursday.
Recall that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) had ordered a holistic forensic audit of the activities of the NDDC from inception to August 2019 to reposition it for effective service delivery.
"The Federal Government will, in consequence, apply the law to remedy the deficiencies outlined in the audit report as appropriate.
“This will include but not be limited to the initiation of criminal investigations, prosecution, recovery of funds not properly utilized for the public purposes for which they were meant for amongst others.
“In all these instances of actions, legal due processes will strictly be complied with,” he said.
Malami said the government was worried about what he described as the colossal loss occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta region, in spite of releasing about N6trillion to the commission in eight years.
According to him, the essence of the forensic audit was to ensure accountability in the use of public funds.
The minister said, “It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government has approved N3, 375, 735,776,794.93 as budgetary allocation and N2,420,948,894,191.00 as Income from Statutory and Non Statutory Sources, which brings the total figure to the sum of approximately N6 trillion given to the Niger Delta Development Commission.
“The Federal Government is particularly concerned with the colossal loss occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta region, in spite of the huge resources made available to uplift the living standard of the citizens.
“We have on record over 13,777 projects, the execution of which is substantially compromised. The Federal Government is also concerned with the multitudes of Niger Delta Development Commission’s bank accounts amounting to 362 and lack of proper reconciliation of accounts.”
Malami said it was clear that considerable resources have been channelled by the Federal Government to the development of the Niger Delta from 2001 to 2019.
He said it was therefore important for the Federal Government and the public to be properly informed of what has been spent and how that has been spent.
“The essence of the forensic audit is to ensure probity and accountability in the use of public funds. It is against this background that the Federal Government will without hesitation strategically implement all aspects of the audit exercise that will promote probity and greater prosperity for the Niger Delta Region and Nigeria as whole,” he asserted.
Malami added that the Petroleum Industry Act recently signed into law was to “to bring about the prudence and accountability in the Petroleum Sector and to give a sense of participation and ownership to the Host communities.”