The Niger Delta Development Commission allegedly awarded fake contracts in the past three years, to the tune of over N1 trillion.
Acting Executive Director, Projects, and Chairman, Contracts Verification Committee, Cairo Ojougboh, disclosed this to newsmen in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, after the Interim Management Committee conducted a forensic audit of the commission.
Ojougboh explained that such contracts were wrongly tagged emergency contracts, and were awarded by the commission between 2016 and 2019.
He stated that the contracts were not only spurious, but criminal, and that most of the awards were not backed by budget and had no bills of engineering measurements or drawings.
He pointed out that the fraudulent contract awards were only open cheques for the contractors and their collaborators to fill in at the nearest banks, maintaining that ahead of the forensic audit, the verification to be carried out by his committee would expose the spurious contracts.
Buhari had ordered a forensic audit of the commission and appointed an interim management committee headed by Acting Managing Director, Joi Nunieh, to oversee the operations at the NDDC.
Ojougboh said, “If President Buhari did not order this forensic audit, the NDDC would have been grounded to a halt, killed and buried. He saved the NDDC from being shut down due to bloated contracts, overtrading and other sharp practices in the commission.
“The verification will expose those spurious contracts. Contractors with fake or spurious awards are advised in their best interest to stay away from the various centres.”
He said, “Among other things, this verification is intended to establish the true position of the emergency regime between 2016 and 2019 in the commission.
“It is now common knowledge that some of the awards were not only spurious, but criminal as records available to us showed that most of the awards were not backed by budget, had no bills of engineering measurement or drawings and were just open cheques for contractors and their collaborators to fill in at the nearest banks.
“In 2017, for instance, the commission awarded a total of 201 emergency contacts valued at N100.4bn.
“In 2018, a total 1,057 emergency contracts valued at N162.69bn; and just seven months of 2019, a total of 1,921 emergency contracts valued at N1.07tn were awarded.
“So, we are talking of a total of over N1.3tn in less than three years.
“The yearly budget of the NDDC is hardly above N400bn and a situation where contracts that do not qualify for emergency were fraudulently awarded, valued at over N1tn in less than one year, amounts to ‘not only stealing from the pulpit, but stealing the entire pulpit”, he added.