ABUJA, Nigeria – Centre for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (CHURAC) has commended the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to dissolve the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
CHURAC president, Cleric E. Alaowei, in a statement on Thursday, said the sack was a victory for public interest litigators.
The statement revealed that NDCC was in a mess and alleged massive corruption in the agency.
He recalled that the body and other well-meaning Nigerians had challenged the legality of the President to appoint Chairman of the Board from Edo State without following the rotational circle as provided by the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000.
He said: “While we are not trying to preempt the courts of their findings, we are happy that Mr. President has looked into the concerns of the Niger Delta people, especially as they relate to following due processes of the laws. We make bold to say that the now-disbanded board was illegally constituted by the President. The decision, therefore, to lay it off is a step in the right direction.
“CHURAC is in support of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) since that is within the purview of Mr. President in the absence of a substantive board. The tripartite decisions of the presidency to disband the illegally constituted management board, set up IMC and empaneled forensic auditors to audit the Commission from 2001 to date are very commendable.
“CHURAC is in agreement with public opinion that the NDDC is swimming in a humongous corruption. Any step taken to weed the Commission of the unchecked corruption is the right step that should be applauded by every right-thinking individual. The Trillions of naira the Commission has allegedly spent on projects in the region since its establishment in 2001 did not correspond with what is on ground.
“The Commission was not just poorly managed by successive management teams, politicians have turned it into a looting spree to pilfer away our common patrimony. The forensic auditors should be very meticulous. No stone should be left unturned. CHURAC will give all necessary support to the government and the forensic auditors to ensure that we have a sanitized Commission.
“The corruption in NDDC is now a syndicate. While the Niger Delta region is littered with abandoned projects with some already paid in full contract sum without execution, some of these contractors are being protected by powerful politicians who are connected to the Commission. So many contracts are also being executed by unregistered companies yet nothing happens to them because corruption is ruling the agency.
“The IMC should not just pay contractors coming for payments because they’re close to the powers that be. They should supervise every project to ascertain its due completion before making payments. That is one area that was breeding corruption in the Commission. Contracts are being awarded to cronies and their lackeys with full contract sum paid without actual execution.
“CHURAC will do everything within its power to ensure that the forensic audit is made public for Nigerians to see what is happening in the Commission. President Buhari will have his name scrolled in the golden plate of history if he exposed the daredevil corruption controlling the NDDC through this forensic audit.”