by Linda Ikeji
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has linked some members of the National Assembly to some contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Punch reports that Akpabio in a list in which he copied the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, enlisted the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on the NDDC, Nicholas Mutu, who represents the Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency of Delta State, as one of the lawmakers that have been awarded contracts by the Commission. According to him, Mutu who was arraigned in court in February this year by the EFCC for alleged abuse of office and N320m fraud, received 74 projects including various emergency road projects in Delta, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Rivers states.
Akpabio, who is a former governor of Akwa Ibom state, also linked the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta-North), with 53 projects, which included emergency repairs of Asue Street, Owa Phase 2; ldumuogbe Road via Ojemaye; Otolokpo College Road, Otolokpo; and the Police lshu Ani Ukwu Road, Issele Uku.
Other lawmakers that Akpabio listed projects against are Senator Matthew Urhoghide (Edo-South), six; James Manager (Delta-South), six; Samuel Anyanwu (Imo-West, 8th Senate), 19; and others simply identified as Ondo and Edo Reps.
The minister, however, did not provide the cost of the projects listed against the lawmakers’ names, while the cost of contracts given to non-lawmakers had costs of various projects attached to them.
Akpabio did not also state if the lawmakers were directly awarded the contracts or they nominated the projects under their Zonal Intervention Projects, also known as constituency projects.
On Monday, July 20, Akpabio while testifying at the House of Representatives panel investigating allegations of financial recklessness at the NDDC, alleged that most of the contracts awarded in the Commission were to members of the National Assembly.
On Tuesday, July 21, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, gave the Minister 48 hours to release the names of the lawmakers in question or face punitive measures.
After the two-day ultimatum had expired, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, directed the clerk of the House to institute a lawsuit against Akpabio after he failed to release the names of the National Assemblies members that have been awarded contracts by NDDC.
Akpabio in a letter that was later read on the floor of the House of Representatives by the Speaker, denied saying 60% of the contracts were awarded to lawmakers.