Following massive allegations and counter allegations with regards to contract scam rocking the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), no fewer than 10 civil society organisations have jointly demanded that an independent probe panel be set up for better outcome.
The group wants President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the NDDC Probe by forming a presidential panel amidst questions of morality and loss of confidence on the National Assembly committee by Interim Management Committee (IM•C) on NDDC and Nigerians.
In a joint press statement made available to newsmen on Monday, a group, the Civil Society Joint Action Against Corruption, which embodies the 10 civil society groups came together to ask for an unbiased inquiry into the probe of NDDC. It will be recalled that the National Assembly had already initiated investigation on activities of NDDC.
The CSOs, however, said they are concerned that the National Assembly committee investigating NDDC is not in the best position to thoroughly carry out the task over allegation on its Chairman and loss of confidence by Nigerians.
“Most important to us in the Civil society Group are the accusations on the National Assembly and particularly the allegation on the Chairman House Committee on NDDC; Honourable Olubumi Tunji Ojo. The loss of confidence expressed by the IMC, NDDC, people of the Niger Delta and Nigerians.”
The group said “having watched the activities surrounding the probe by both the Senate Committee and House of Representatives Committees on Niger Delta majorly on allegations of financial impropriety and constant exchange of accusations and counter-accusations between the chairmen of the House Committees on NDDC Honourable Olubumi Ojo and the Interim Management Committee (IM•C) on NDDC, they (Senate and Rep committee) lack morality to probe the NDDC.”
They, however, opined that the standing committees of the National Assembly being an interested party in the case, haven been accused of corruption, lack of morality and public confidence will not do justice to the issues of financial improprieties and other related wrong doings in the NDDC.
The statement further read:
“We demand that National Assembly discontinue and excuse itself from the probe considering the claim that the probe panel is set up to witch-hunt suspected members of the public and that in no time has such activities or exercise yielded any good result except wastage of public funds and resources, it will be honourable for the House Committee on Niger Delta to stop this unpatriotic, insincere and self serving exercise.
“In the interest of the nation and to disabuse the fear, perceptions, doubt of the public on the on-going probe, we therefore call for immediate stoppage of the said probe by National Assembly and call for an Independent panel of enquiry to probe the activities of the immediate IMC of NDDC.
“This call become imperative so as to avoid another witch-hunt and matter where by it will end in controversy just like many probes initiated by National Assembly. it will save the country another round of controversy and get to the root of the investigations needed in NDDC for the sake of the Niger Delta people that has been deprived of needed amenities and resources.
“We want all issues surrounding the mismanaged of funds, non-payment of scholarships, contract scams and budget inflation to be treated holistically.
“We believe this can be done only by an Independent Presidential Probe Panel, where-in all will face the committee and report back to the President, and for relevant anti corruption agencies to act on. Allowing members of National Assembly to go ahead will not produce the needed result but rather lead to waste of time and resources and only ended up in media trial.
“We frown at any effort geared towards dragging the name of Senator Godswill Akpobio to the mud by anybody or group of persons. It is unfortunate that his resolve to restore the hope of the Niger Deltans through the NDDC is construed as misconduct.
“We make bold to reaffirm the confidence reposed on him by Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari and the entire people of Niger Delta,” the statement concluded.