CSO demands discontinuance payment of NDDC fund to EFCC

By: Kazeem Biriowo – Abuja.

A Civil Society Organization (CSO), Act for Positive Transformation Initiatives (APTI) has called for immediate discontinuance payment of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)’s 3% of the total annual budget of the oil-producing companies operating onshore and offshore in the Niger Delta to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission(EFCC).

The Head of Directorate of Research, Strategy & Programmes of APTI, Kolawole Johnson in press conference on Wednesday also demanded that EFCC should, within seven working days, give a proper account of what has been collected thus far and make the same public for the purpose of accountability.

He said: “While assuming that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission will do what is just in this regard by returning the total sum collected thus far, we call on the Commission to release the fund to a dedicated NDDC account not to be touched till after the general elections and even after the general elections, the management of the Commission should ensure every penny taken out of the fund is properly accounted for probity.

While speaking further, Johnson said, against the backdrop of the enabling law regulating the administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission’s funds and assets, the Federal Government through the Economic and Financial Crime Commission has since 2020 engaged in financial illegalities that are daily shortchanging the Commission and the people of the Niger Delta region.

“Believing in the anti-corruption mantra of the Federal Government, a coalition of civil society organizations working with The Act for Positive Transformation Initiatives launched a campaign for probity and accountability on the Niger Delta Development Commission in the year 2020”.

“Thus far, the campaign has merely exposed the present administration as one that only pays lip service to the war against corruption as it has failed to take any deterrent steps despite the volume of evidence presented”.

“Rather, the government took advantage of the campaign to engage in systemic feasting on the Commission’s resources”.

“The Act establishing the Niger Delta Development Commission, without ambiguity, gave the Commission the exclusive power to determine how its assets and funds are to be held and regulated”.

“Since 2020, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission has taken over, albeit illegally, the role of collecting 3% of the total annual budget of oil-producing companies (The major revenue source for the NDDC) on behalf of the NDDC without remitting the same to the Commission”.

“This was done without any legal justification and in flagrant disregard of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000. By this act, the EFCC ambushed the provision of section 14(2) (b) of the NDDC Act, diverting and syphoning funds assigned, allotted and due to the NDDC”.

“This act of the EFCC is ultra-vires of the powers of the EFCC provided in the EFCC Act 2004 of which collecting funds allocated by law to another body enacted by law does not apply”.

“Curiously, in the course of a close investigation, the anti-graft agency appeared not to have created a dedicated account for this fund, fueling suspicion that the Agency might have turned-in a chunk of the fund into recovery for the Federal Government. The said fund cannot be classified under recovery and thus, cannot be kept under government recovery account”.

“Some concerned officials from the region have always been willing tools in perpetuating this illegality, perhaps for the satisfaction of feudal lords. The immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the present Minister cannot feign ignorance”.

“As recent as December 2022, The Minister, claiming to be working on approval from the President, was hoping to access the sum of Four Hundred and Eighty Billion Naira {{480,000,000,000} from the NDDC’s fund with the anti-graft agency to fund some special emergency projects”.

“Notwithstanding the prolonged inability to access the said fund, sources within the oil-producing companies reveal the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Umana Okon Umana, still encourages the companies to pay the statutory revenue to the anti-graft agency”.

“Of note, by law, EFCC is not a revenue collection agency and thus, cannot make itself one through the back door through hoodwinking and instrument of blackmail”.”The law only gives the power to specify how NDDC assets are to be held to the management and Board of the Commission, not EFCC or any other agency of government, not even the Ministry of Finance or the Federal Inland Revenue Service. EFCC cannot assume the role of NDDC management under any guise. It is unlawful and illegal,” he explained.


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