With due respect to the efforts of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, in fighting corruption especially sanitising the Niger Delta Development Commission and other agencies, the mindset and inclination to corruption have continued to fester over the past few years in spite of the change mantra. We know that the efforts of Mr President will always come to naught if the people he had put in positions of trust and authority refused to align themselves with his desires, mandate and agenda, which are to rid Nigeria of corruption. Howbeit, corruption in Nigeria has become a bloodline disease that can only take God to detect and cure.
For this reason, the Conduct and Due Process Group; an anti-corruption platform based in Nigeria, in collaboration with several civil society groups and the media decided to come together to coordinate efforts to fight corruption Nationwide.
It may interest you Mr President and of course the new Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes and other offences Commission to know that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has come a long way with the corruption that has taken deep root in NDDC long before his appointment as a minister. He has his proteges planted deeply in NDDC way back when he was Governor of Akwa Ibom State. As a minister he had only taken a wholesome dominance of NDDC, directing affairs unlike before when he would need to go through his boys first to get whatever he wants from the commission.
This anti-corruption group has a detailed petition on the fraudulent contracts and money laundering of Mr Akpabio, even up to last weekend when he made a withdrawal of N3.5bn from the NDDC account with the pretence of paying contractors.
Akpabio's biggest conduit pipe is the Rodnab Construction Limited, the contractor handling the commission's headquarters project. Payments made to Rodnab usually found their ways into AHR Global Standard Services Limited account and at least 10% of the transfered funds were rerouted into one Abu Meepatan's bank account and other numerous bank accounts, with another prime suspect of a company being Quaoj Limited.
For the purpose of clarity, Mr Akpabio has been an active player in the NDDC power game since inception of the commission and some of his powerful minions helping him to convert and transfer funds from respective jurisdictions are; Mr Bassey Dan Abia, former Managing Director of NDDC, Mr Effiong Felix Akwa, present Executive Director of Finance and Administration, Mr Abu Meepatan, Rodnab Construction Limited Director, Mr Emmanuel Otugbai, personal aide to Akpabio and Mr Henry Ogiri.
It has become common knowledge that Rodnab Construction Limited has been laundering funds for Akpabio through his company and others acting as fronts. In 2015, Mr Bassey Dan Abia in agreement with the Executive Director of Projects, NDDC, Mr Henry Ogiri, diverted billions of funds meant for the development of the Niger Delta region. Evidence of NDDC statement of account domiciled with Keystone Bank with account number: 1040074461 named NDDC Current Account, has it that the sum of One Billion, Six Hundred and Thirty Two Million, Nine Hundred and Thirty Eight Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifty Two Naira, Fifty Five Kobo (#1,632,938,552.55) reversed into NDDC's account after it was initially transfered into Mr Bassey Dan Abia's personal bank account earlier. Till date, Mr Abia's tenure had not been probed even with the huge illegal transfers of funds recorded during his administration. It was Mr Abia who awarded the contract for the construction of the NDDC'S permanent headquarters to Rodnab Construction Limited, the same company that built Senator Akpabio's personal house.
When you take a cursory look into the history of the above mentioned individuals, you will discover they had one link or the other with Akpabio who is now the head of the cabal as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
Between the year 2007 and 2015 from when Akpabio was the governor of Akwa Ibom State, he nominated several persons for appointment into the Board of NDDC. He nominated Arc. Esoetek Etteh, who was appointed Executive Director Projects from 2009-2011. He also nominated his deputy governor, Mr Nsima Ekere, who later took over from Bassey Dan Abia as the Managing Director of NDDC between 2016 and 2019. He equally nominated Engr Edikan Eshiet, who served as NDDC'S Executive Director Projects from 2011-2013.
In the case of Mr Effiong Akwa, Mr Akpabio appointed him Managing Director of Akwa Ibom Savings and Loans, a state-owned bank when he was governor. Within the period under review, Mr Effiong Akwa approved loans running into billions of naira for Godswill Akpabio, which he allegedly used to purchase large stake in Champion Breweries. This put a lot of financial strain on the bank before Akpabio left office as governor; but before then, he had nominated Mr Effiong Akwa to oversee his interest in NDDC by making him SA Finance to Mr Bassey Dan Abia. This process helped Akpabio cement a solid hold on the commission with regular returns in contracts and kickbacks through Mr Effiong Akwa and Mr Emmanuel Otugbai. Mr Otugbai had remained a trusted personal aide to Senator Akpabio, who helps him to handle some of the illegal transactions involving money laundering and kickbacks from contracts.
Among these actors linked to Akpabio, the most dangerously involved in this cartel is Mr Abu Meepatan, Director of Rodnab Construction Limited, who had been overseeing most of the funds syphoned from NDDC through Rodnab to AHR Global Standard Services Limited and others. During the probe of the House Committee on NDDC, he refused to present himself but instead sent another accomplice who is the company's lawyer to represent him. Mr. Meepatan is a close associate of Senator Akpabio and was the contractor, who built Akpabio's house.
The people of Niger Delta need to know where all the trillions received since the inception of the interventionist agency, NDDC had entered. They can't continue to watch mindless individuals keep squandering their commonwealth or somebody like the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs believing that the NDDC has become his official settlement. Why should what was collectively approved for the people of the Niger Delta region become a cash-cow for a few individuals?
We need justice for the untold hardship the people of the Niger Delta had been made to go through from the looting of Akpabio and his cohorts in NDDC.
First, all the transactions entered into with Rodnab Construction Limited in conjunction with AHR Global Standard Services Limited, including monies shared from the additional contract proceeds through Zenith Bank Account Number: 1013906383.
Secondly, the directors of these companies should be probed and their links with Akpabio investigated from at least the past three years.
Thirdly, the Federal Government should immediately terminate the forensic audit project being handled by Akpabio, now that it has been proven to be a scam. The forensic audit exercise is a smokescreen used by Akpabio to divert attention in order to go on a looting spree while sanctimoniously chasing shadows.
In a nutshell, while it is evident that copies of our petition had since been sent to EFCC, ICPC, Senate Committee on Public Hearing and House Committee on Public Petition, this channel of communication was adopted to demonstrate our resolve to fight this course to a logical conclusion. Even though we had copied the President in our petition, the open letter is to further draw his attention to this public opinion and to alert the Nigerian populace of the sinister motives of Senator Akpabio in NDDC's affairs and activities.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other anti graft agencies must equally demonstrate to the President, Nigerians and the international community their capacity and zeal to fighting this monster called corruption without minding whose ox is gored. And this time, using the minister, Akpabio, as a scapegoat in settling the corruption matter in NDDC won't be a bad decision.
Thanks and long live Nigeria.
Publisher, Secret Reporters Newspapers