As the account of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), an agency under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs came under scrutiny at the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission last week, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and the former acting Managing Director of NDDC, Dr Joy Nunieh have engaged in digging each other’s ‘dirty deals.’
In an interview after the conclusion of a two-day public hearing on Friday in Abuja, the ex-Managing Director accused Godswill Akpabio of wanting to get her involved in fraud which she declined.
She said, an issue which was raised against her by the current management of NDDC that she awarded contract without carrying them along was untrue, noting that there was no action of hers while in office without the Minister knowing.
Dr. Nunieh explained how Godswill Akpabio told her that she has poverty mentality, because she declined changing foreign currencies in the NDDC account into local currencies, but that she replied she was scared to do so without due process.
“One of the issues raised against me was that I awarded contracts without them knowing about it. Am sure that is what they told you people yesterday.
“Apparently, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh never sit in the office, so he never know the workings and the bureaucracy of payments in the office.
“I am just a viewer of a platform that made payments in NDDC. There are different steps to take before payments are made in NDDC.
“One, there is the issue of Lassa fever which obviously they didn’t carry that one along. Nobody makes payments in NDDC without Godswill Akpabio’s consent.
“When we first came to NDDC on the day of inauguration, we were going to the camp, he told me Madam MD, if you don’t do what I said, the same pen I used in signing your letter, that is the same pen I will use in removing you.
“He said the first thing I should do, when I get to Port Harcourt, is to change dollars in NDDC account into Naira. I told him, I am scared to do that. He claimed that I have poverty mentality that I was afraid of money. All of you knew that he accused me that I am afraid to spend money.
She further narrated that there were officers which Akpabio felt should be removed, saying that she declined because, she viewed that, as an infraction on the NDDC act.
Nunieh said: After two days, he came to Port Harcourt and said I should remove Mr. Katulgo from legal department and send him on compulsory retirement, and he said we cannot have a northerner as head of the legal unit.”
The former NDDC boss insisted that she lacked the powers to remove any management staff, she was still in acting capacity, a situation she said infuriated Akpabio.
“So, he came and ask me to draft a letter on my letterhead implicating Senator Peter Nwaoboshi for collecting contracts in NDDC. I told him that I will not do that I am a lawyer and who alleges should prove. He said Senator Nwaoboshi is giving us trouble and beside, he didn’t recognize the IMC. I said I will not do that letter. He said I was ungrateful and I refuse to do that letter.
According to her, Dr, Cairo Ojougboh who is the Director (Projects) agreed to do the letter implicating the lawmakers.
She narrates: “Dr. Cairo now said he will do the letter. He said if Akpabio asked him to kill, he will kill before he asks why did he kill and I said, for me, I will not do that.
“At that place, there was one Mr. Etiebet who was only the NDDC staff that was present at that meeting. He now asked Dr. Cairo to go and send for letter headed from the office.
“They got the letter headed. Dr Cairo now did a letter which I want to tender at the Ad-hoc Committee before I came late, alleging that Senator Nwaoboshi had contracts and I said if I signed any document and is seen by Mr. President, he will believe and I refused to sign.
Explaining how the Director of Finance in the NDDC, Mr. Linus refused to sign payment of those contracts, she insisted due process was not followed.
In her narratives, Akpabio didn’t spare the House Committee on NDDC, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, of campaign of calumny, saying that the lawmaker wentto Ondo tto plan against him.
“He also said, I should implicate the Chairman, House Committee on NDDC because the Chairman of House Committee has gone to Ondo State to hold a meeting to plan against him. I said I don’t know that one, I have never seen him.
“But for Senator Nwaoboshi, he was my classmate at the Law school and we were called to bar the same day, however, I didn’t see him since we were called to bar, I didn’t really remember him and that was thirty years ago.
She said the feud got to the peak when she refused to pay for water hyacinths.
“When we finished that, Akpabio said I should bring all things and start pay, I said, I cannot pay for water hyacinths because the budget was for about 3 to 5 billion. I cannot remember exactly the figure now.
“The NDDC before I came has overstretched for about N50 billion for hyacinths and so the National Assembly has written us that we should not pay for anything like that.
Dr. Nunieh said, when they saw her insistence on due process, he asked her to take an oath of allegiance which she declined.
She said Akpabio attempted to administer the oath on her for three times which she refused, adding that they were in the office of Special Adviser to the President on domestic Affairs to settle the matter to no avail.
But reacting to allegations by the ex-Managing Director of the NDDC, Godswill Akpabio who spoke through his aide, Barrister Livingstone Appah on Sunday denied the allegations.
Akpabio alleged that Dr. Nunieh forged her certificates, noting that when he demanded for her credentials, she presented forged a forged one.
According to him, the ex-managing director was investigated and discovered that she never served the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which she claimed.
“She didn’t serve. I tell you Joy Nunieh didn’t serve NYSC, and we have evidence to prove,” he insisted.