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‘National Assembly won’t back down on NDDC probe’ – Senate Spokesman

 

The National Assembly has insisted that it will under no circumstance back down on its probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Senator Ajibola Basiru, spokesman of the Senate, who stated this in Abuja on Sunday specifically called on the Commission to provide evidence of alleged corruption claims against lawmakers of the Senate and House of Representatives to anti-graft agencies for investigation.

Basiru in a statement further stated that the National Assembly is bent on concluding investigations into financial transactions of the commission.

The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC headed by Cairo Ojougboh, the Executive Director of Projects, is under scrutiny of forensic audit and investigation by the National Assembly, over fraud and financial misconduct.

The forensic audit of the NDDC was ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari following alleged corruption by the interim management.

But Ojuogboh, who has since denied the allegation however, has accused Senators and Members of the House of Representatives of rather being behind the fraud in NDDC.

But in a swift reaction, the National Assembly through the Senate spokesman has described the allegation as baseless and unfounded.

He stated that the probe of the Commission by the National Assembly was not maliciously intended or aimed at victimizing anyone.

Part of the statement reads: “The attention of the Senate has been drawn to a statement credited to Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, the Executive Director of Projects at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) under the Interim Management Committee (IMC).

“Ordinarily, while we are still at a loss as to why Ojougboh has repeatedly made such allegations at a time when the NDDC is under scrutiny of forensic audit and investigation by the National Assembly, the Senate is even more surprised considering the fact that the allegations are baseless and unsubstantiated.

“Apparently, Cairo Ojougboh is ignorant of the constitutional mandate of the National Assembly to carry out oversight functions over all agencies expending government’s resources with a view to exposing and preventing corruption, abuse and inefficiency.

“It stands logic on the head to claim that by invoking its constitutional power of oversight to investigate the activities of the IMC, the National Assembly intends to scuttle forensic audit. The outlandish claim is illogical,” Ajibola said.

Insisting that NASS has the constitutional mandate to oversight the NDDC, Ajibola noted that the investigation of the Commission was to ensure the proper application of funds for the region.

He said the National Assembly is committed to reposition the NDDC to address the challenges of the Niger Delta through facilitating the rapid and sustainable development of the region.

“The setting up of the investigation is predicated on the above concern and not to victimise or witch hunt anyone. It was also in this regards that the National Assembly has accorded the executives the necessary cooperation that will facilitate the completion of the forensic audit.”

“National Assembly in line with carrying out its oversight functions will appraise the budget and its operations of the Commission like other agencies to entrench a culture of transparency and accountability.

“One would have expected an organisation of integrity to have formally made complaints to the anti-corruption agencies of the purported allegations against Senators and Members of House of Representative of the NDDC committees, if there are facts to substantiate same,”Ajibola stated

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