The Federal Government has said that it will commence criminal investigation and prosecution of will those behind the mismanagement of funds allocated to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the development of the Niger Delta region.
This follows the huge gaps between the funds that have been invested in the region and the infrastructural, human and economic development within the same region, prompting the call for the forensic audit of the NDDC.
This disclosure was made by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, after receiving on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, the forensic audit report of the NDDC.
Malami, while receiving the report which was presented by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said that the federal government will also recover funds not properly utilised for the public purposes for which they were meant and review the laws to reposition and restructure the NDDC, for efficiency and better service delivery.
What the Attorney General and Minister of Justice is saying
Malami in his statement said, “The call for the audit by the people of the Niger Delta Region arose from the huge gaps between resources invested in the region vis a vis the huge gap in infrastructural, human and economic development.
“It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government has approved N3. 3 trillion as budgetary allocation. A total of over N6 trillion was given to the NDDC.
“Consequently, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the engagement of a Lead Forensic Auditor, as well as 16 reputable Audit Firms to conduct the audit exercise. The President is delighted that the auditors have now completed this exercise and the Report is today being presented.’’
The Minister assured that the forensic audit report of the NNDC and the recommendations would therefore be critically analysed for necessary actions and implementation.
He said, “We owe it a duty to the people of the Niger Delta Region to improve their standard of living through the provision of adequate infrastructural and socio-economic development.
“The welfare and socio-economic inclusion of the Niger Delta Region is paramount to the development and security of the region and by extension the Country.
“Funds spent on development activities should as a consequence promote political and socio-economic stability in the Region.
“It is evident that considerable resources have been channelled by the federal government to the development of the Niger Delta from 2001 to 2019. It is therefore important for the federal government and the public to be properly informed on 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 a whole.’’
He said the federal government was particularly concerned with the colossal loss occasioned by the 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 multitude of NDDC bank accounts amounting to 362 and the lack of proper reconciliation of accounts.
”We will in consequence apply the law to remedy the deficiencies outlined in the audit report as appropriate.
“This will include but not limited to initiation of criminal investigations, prosecution, recovery of funds not properly utilised for the public purposes for which they were meant and review of the laws to reposition and restructure the NDDC, for efficiency and better service delivery, amongst others.
“In all these instances of action, legal due processes will be strictly complied with,” Malami stated.
The AGF said the President directed that the forensic audit report be forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for a legal review and relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government will be engaged in doing justice to the findings accordingly.
What you should know
It can be recalled that about 2 years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a forensic audit of the NDDC with effect from 2001 due to concerns over alleged misappropriation in the Commission, insisting on knowing how funds budgeted to the region were spent.
The President during a meeting with governors of states that make up the commission said that the federal government would like to see the results on ground with the amount of money they have religiously allocated to the NDDC and would seek explanations on certain issues from those who have been responsible for running the commission.
In August 2020, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) equally approved N722.3 million for the audit, with the payment coming from the Presidency.