Akpabio and Nunieh in verbal war over NDDC

Dr. Joi Nunieh, the immediate past acting Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, has denied that the agency spent N22.6 billion under her stewardship, just as she alleged that Niger Delta Affair Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, asked her to do his bidding or be removed from office.

Akpabio however denied the allegation, insisting that Nunieh was removed from office because of insubordination and also because she lacked the requisite qualification to occupy the office, as she had no National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, discharge certificate.

Speaking to journalists, after the final session of the Senate ad hoc committee investigating alleged financial recklessness and misappropriation of N40 billion by the Interim Management Committee, she said no payment was made by NDDC under her watch without the knowledge of Akpabio.

Reacting, Akpabio, who appeared on a television programme, said: “She (Nunieh) was not removed from office because of corruption. She was relieved of her appointment because of insubordination.

“My ministry (Niger Delta Affairs) that was supervising her commission (NDDC) sent her several letters. But she never replied any and she said she was bigger than the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.

“Akpabio never said she was removed because of corruption, she was removed from office because she did not show evidence of completing her NYSC after we got petitions that somebody who has no NYSC certificate was allowed to head an important office as the Managing Director of NDDC.

“In response, she forwarded several letters, including a letter from the Nigerian Law School and affidavit, which you can see do not add up.”

Meanwhile, Nunieh told the Senate committee that only N8 billion was expended by the agency from October 29, 2019, to May 31, 2020, when she held sway contrary to the figure being bandied around.

Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, had said that based on record supplied to the panel by the IMC, the agency had so far spent N81.5 billion.

He added that of the amount, the IMC, led by Nunieh, between October 2019 to February 18, 2020, spent a total of N22.5 billion while the current one, led by Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, has so far spent N59.1 billion.

But Nunieh denied spending such a huge sum, alleging that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs frustrated her efforts during her tenure before she was finally removed from office.

She alleged that Akpabio told her on the day that her committee was inaugurated that she must always do his bidding.

“Madam MD, if you don’t do what l say, the same hand that l used in signing your letter is the same hand l will use to remove you,” she quoted Akpabio as saying.

Nunieh also alleged that she was instructed to write an official report to implicate the Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, over alleged fraudulent contract awards and executions.

She noted that the offence of Nwaoboshi, was that he was opposed to the NDDC being run by an interim committee; she said she rebuffed all such entreaties and so “they did all manner of things to forcefully remove me from office,” Nunieh added.

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