Elder statesman and Ijaw nationalist, Chief Edwin Clark has thrown his weight behind the forensic auditing of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Clark in an open letter to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbejabiamila, lamented the level of corruption that has gone on in the commission over the years.
He therefore, called for an investigative panel to look into the roles of certain members of the National Assembly as well as the Interim Management Committee of the commission in cases of fraud perpetrated in the commission.
In the letter, the elder statesman specifically noted that the allegations against the chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on the Niger Delta Affairs were too weighty to be ignored.
Both had been accused of openly and flagrantly committing fraud by the Acting Executive Director, Project (AEDP), of the NDDC, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, allegations which they had denied.
He said: “The allegations made against both Chairmen are too weighty that they cannot be swept under the carpet. Their off the cuff statement or explanations are not enough at all. A new investigative panel should be constituted to investigate both the IMC and these members of NASS.
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“Issues of corruption in the NDDC have become endemic. It was as a result of these complaints, that Mr. President, promptly and courageously appointed the IMC, to supervise the Forensic Audit which he had also set up, to investigate all the alleged corrupt practices that had been perpetuated in the Commission, before a Board will be inaugurated for the Commission. Any attempt to distract from Mr. President’s directive that forensic audit of the NDDC should be carried out, is unacceptable to the people of the Niger Delta. We are solidly behind Mr. President in this his directive.”
The South South leader further lamented the inability of leaders in the region to condemn the “few corrupt members in the NASS, who have converted and are still converting the NDDC into their personal farm yard,” adding “That is why there is always scramble and manipulations to be Chairmen and members of this ‘juicy committee.’”
The letter read further: “The oil in the Niger Delta was deposited there by God Almighty knowing the type of difficult and swampy terrain He has put us in. Therefore, for the proceeds of these resources to be fraudulently taken by people who want to egocentrically enrich themselves, is unacceptable and will be resisted. This has gone on for too long and has to stop.
“I want to place on record that had God in His infinite mercy and wisdom not endowed the region with such resources, it would have been difficult for any government to remember us. Even with the resources, we have to agitate to get development when the Colonial Government set up the Willink Commission of Inquiry in 1957 to look into the issues of our utter neglect. It was this Commission that designated the place a Special Area for development.
“We will no longer tolerate this criminal exploitation of our resources.
“Therefore, Mr. Senate President, and the Right Honourable Speaker, if nothing is done, and urgently too, to investigate these grievous allegations leveled against these members and by extension the National Assembly, I must say that it will erode the confidence people, especially, Niger Deltans, have on the National Assembly.