By ONYEKACHUKWU MELUWA, Warri
A group under the aegis of Itsekiri Interest (IIG), has lauded what it described as the courage of the National Assembly (NASS), particularly the Senate Ad-hoc committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to recommend that the Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei-led Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC be disbanded and the NDDC placed under the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), even as it condemned the ‘Itsekiri Consultative Congress (ICC)’ for what it described as its unbridled and uninformed attack on the NASS recommendations.
The group in a statement issued on Sunday in warri said by its Director of Research, Media and Publicity, Comrade Toritseju Okotie, it is absurd for any right thinking Itsekiri person or group to go against the NASS investigation of the IMC of the NDDC and recommendations made thereafter, maintaining that the NASS exercise was in the overall interest of the oil-rich but manifestly underdeveloped Niger Delta region of Nigeria which include the Itsekiri as a leading oil-producing ethnic group in the country.
The group said that, “IIG aligns totally with earlier calls by other notable Itsekiri groups and individuals like the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought (ILoT) , Prof. Itse Sagay, Chief (Mrs) Rita Lori-Ogbebor and other Niger Delta activists like Ijaw leader, Comrade Joseph Evah, who demanded for a thorough investigation into the financial scandal rocking the IMC of the NDDC and possible sacking of the current leadership. It is therefore preposterous and totally unItsekirilike for any thoroughbred Itsekiri person or group to kick against these open probe activities by the NASS and recommendations to President Muhammadu Buhari thereof. The unknown ICC as represented by a certain Collins Edema spoke for themselves and certainly not the Itsekiri,” Comrade Okotie stated.
According to him, “the Itsekiri are known to always stand up against corruption and other forms of sharp practices which has become endemic in the NDDC and became even louder within the short life span of the IMC of the NDDC. This is why the IIG supports all what both the Senate and House of Representatives have done thus far in exposing the endemic corruption in the IMC of the NDDC leading into an unprecedented, crude and criminal looting of over N82 billion naira of funds meant for the development of the Niger Delta Region. All this happened within less than seven months of the IMC taking over the administration of NDDC!”
Said Comrade Okotie: “The IIG further call for not just the sacking of the current IMC of the NDDC but also the prosecution in court of all principal officers found culpable in the wanton looting of funds meant to develop the Niger Delta region. The primary task of the IMC is to carry out a forensic audit of the NDDC from inception. However, it is manifestly clear to the blind and resoundingly loud to the deaf that this IMC team had no interest whatsoever to deliver on this onerous task. Their plan was to loot the treasury of NDDC dry. This is unacceptable.
“They must be fired and prosecuted. The Minister of Niger Delta Ministry, His Excellency, Senator Godswill Akpabio should also be made to account for his role in this whole cesspool of corruption within this short period the IMC took over the NDDC and if found culpable, shown the way out of President Buhari’s cabinet and prosecuted too.”