1st June 2017
Benin City, Nigeria…The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, has urged the Federal government to publish the findings of the technical committee set up by the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs that revealed the misappropriation of public funds up to the tune of seven hundred billion naira (N700billion), and which has culminated in a probe of the MNDA.
ANEEJ Executive Director, the Rev David Ugolor who made this call just after the Federal Executive Council announcement said that it would be in the interest of transparency and good governance for the report to be published, citing the need to unmask the errant companies and individuals who have been fingered as perpetrators of the heist.
‘The Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs must not be seen to be a judge in the case of malfeasance already discovered from the report it sent to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting for consideration. Because it is the nature of probes in Nigeria not to be thorough, inclusive and conclusive, Nigerians, and indeed Niger Deltans should be interested in knowing who the contractors who have abandoned the projects are and how much they were awarded to carry out the said abandoned projects. We believe that this would strengthen considerations and activities around the bill on whistleblowing in Nigeria’, the Rev Ugolor said in a media statement.
When the report of the technical committee set up by the Honourable of the Ministry of the Niger Delta, has been made public ANEEJ recommends that the probe panel be chaired by a retired Chief Justice who would bring the full weight of his integrity and acumen to bear on the conduct of the probe of such monumental heists of public funds.
‘In addition, ANEEJ calls for the inclusion of key stakeholders and relevant activists in the Niger Delta in the probe panel to ensure that their involvement adds value and credibility to the exercise’.
‘Apart from the prosecution of the perpetrators of those unaccounted-for funds, we implore the FEC investigation/probe to make the tracing, tracking and recovery of the stolen as a cardinal thrust of the probe so that recovered funds be deployed in the completion of either ongoing or abandoned projects in the Niger Delta. Most CSOs and NGOs working in the Niger Delta on corruption issues have networks of investigations which the government can leverage on to track perpetrators. It would be recalled that in 2015, ANEEJ and a sister organisation, Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment, LITE-Africa conducted comprehensive investigations leading to the publication of a citizen report card on Niger Delta institutions in Cross River, Edo, Delta and Ondo states. The Citizens Report Card which was presented to the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in Benin during his recent visit to the Niger Delta indicated many abandoned projects by the NDDC and Ministry of Niger Delta, and it has spurred the acting president to action to get the contractors back to the various sites.
‘ANEEJ verily believes that if the Federal Government involves CSOs in the tracing, tracking and prosecution of individuals and organizations involved in the heists of funds for development in the Niger Delta, the narrative around abandoned projects in the Niger Delta would change’, the Rev. Ugolor stated in the statement to the media.