The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demanded the removal of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to allow for unfettered investigation into the allegations of corruption in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
This is as former acting Managing Director of NDDC, Joy Nunieh, claimed that she slapped Akpabio for sexually assaulting her.
The opposition party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted the allegation by Nunieh, of massive stealing, manipulation of budget processes and victimization in the agency.
PDP expressed shock that laid-down procedures of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) were allegedly circumvented to siphon unapproved budgets.
It condemned the alleged victimisation through fetish practices, of innocent workers and federal legislators.
“Nigerians are still in a state of shock over reports of how the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Akpabio, allegedly bullied officials to pillage the commission’s foreign currency account.
“More distressing is that the Buhari presidency and the APC had remained silent even when the embattled minister has not provided any concrete defence to the allegations beyond personal attacks on the whistle blower,” the party said.
The party recalled that last April, it alerted of massive looting in the NDDC and called for investigation, but regretted that it was not addressed by the government.
“Our party had also alerted that the NDDC management has not been able to give cogent explanation to the reported Lassa fever contract fraud through which over N4 billion NDDC fund was alleged to have been frittered on hazy procurement deals.
“This is in addition to alleged N5.5 billion COVID-19 scandal which trails reports that the NDDC had already spent over N1.045 billion purportedly for supply of kits and palliatives to Nigerians in nine states,” it added.
PDP called on President Muhammadu Buhari to speak out on the issue and take steps to investigate and prosecute all those involved in the alleged fraud.
Speaking yesterday during an interview on Arise TV breakfast programme, Morning Show, Nunieh said she is the only Nigerian woman who has slapped the minister, adding that the incident happened at the minister’s guest house in Apo, Abuja.
The minister and the ex- NDDC boss had lately been engaging in accusations and counter-accusations over the affairs of the commission.
She also accused Akpabio of trying to inflate the NDDC budget by instructing her to include some projects from the refugee commission in the budget of the NDDC.
Nunieh said: “Why did he not tell Nigerians that I slapped him in his guest house at Apo? I am the only woman that slapped Akpabio. He thought he could come up on me.
He tried to harass me sexually. “I slapped him. He tried to come on me. I am an Ogoni woman and nobody jokes with us. I showed Akpabio that Rivers women do not tolerate nonsense.”
The former MD also alleged that the minister tried to inflate the NDDC budget by instructing her to attach some projects from the refugee commission in the budget of the NDDC.
She said: “Akpabio wrote me to put a list of projects from the refugee commission in the budget of NDDC. Refugee commission is another Federal Government commission for IDPs.
“How do you tell me to put some of their projects in the NDDC budget when we have so many things to do in the Niger Delta?
How do you explain that?” Nunieh also alleged that Akpabio’s girlfriend was given contract to supply diesel for the NDDC.
“Akpabio’s girlfriend supplies diesel at the NDDC,” she said. She alleged that Akpabio orchestrated her removal for failing to do his bidding.
Akpabio and Nunieh have been exchanging words following the activities of the Senate ad hoc panel investigating the alleged mismanagement of N40 billion by the interim management committee (IMC) of the NDDC.
The former Akwa Ibom governor had told the Senate panel that he knew nothing about the expenditure of the NDDC under Nunieh because she refused to give him briefings.
The minister also said Nunieh has flawed character and being temperamental.