Port Harcourt — The immediate past Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Joi Nunieh, at the weekend accused the Minister of Niger Delta, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, of fraud and various forms of corruption under his leadership in NDDC.
Nunieh also denied that the agency spent N22.5billion under her stewardship, just as she alleged that Senator Akpabio, threatened her to do his bidding or be removed from office.
She told newsmen after a session with the Senate Adhoc Committee investigating financial recklessness and misappropriation of N40billion by the Interim Management Committee of NDDC, that “nobody makes any payment in NDDC without Akpabio’s approval.”
According to her, only the sum of N8billion was expended by the agency from October 29, 2019 to May 31, 2020, when she held sway contrary to the figure being bandied around.
Though Nunieh did not provide any evidence to support her allegations against the Minister, she also alleged that during her time at NDDC, Mr Akpabio repeatedly pressured her to take “an oath of secrecy” that was meant to keep her from exposing fraud in the Commission.
“When we first came, on the day of the inauguration, he (Akpabio) said to me in the car, ‘Madam MD, if you don’t do what I say, the same pen with which I used to sign your paper is the same pen I’ll use to remove you.
“For instance, he told me to raise a memo to fraudulently award emergency contracts for flood victims in the Niger Delta.
“He told me to take an oath. Though he denied that, he told me three times. We had a reconciliation at the Villa in the office of Sarki Abba, the S.A. to the President on Domestics.”
In the video of her interview circulating online, Nunieh said she feared that she would be jailed if, under Mr Akpabio’s oath, she committed infraction on the Public Procurement Act and was not able to speak out, while he would be going about as a free man.
The former NDDC boss said it was after her refusal to take the oath, that Mr Akpabio started plotting her removal. “He said he was going to remove me and then he started the campaign of calumny against me,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Niger Delta, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, in response to Nunieh’s allegations accused the former NDDC boss of having character problems.
Akpabio in a live interview on Arise Television monitored in Port Harcourt, said that Nunieh was not sacked because of corruption, but because of her insubordination and lack of the prerequisite certificates to head an agency.
The Minister blamed himself for having a soft spot for women, saying that the soft spot he had for them was the reason he never wanted to spite the former NDDC MD by making her educational deficiencies public.
“I don’t want to discuss her because that’s not the job of a Minister. The last MD you mentioned, Joy Nunieh, I wish she can go to a hospital, see a doctor take some injections and relax.
“I’m not saying that there’s something wrong with her, but I’m saying there’s something wrong with her temperament. Remember she had about four other husbands that she married.
“You also need to bring all the other former husbands to the studio so that you ask them questions one after the other because it looks like character. They will have answers to her problem.
“If somebody comes up and say something on the television channel, then the whole world, Nigerians love bad news and my job is to protect the citizens of the country and the administration of Mr. President,”Akpabio said.
However, the Chairman, Senate Adhoc Committee investigating corruption in NDDC, Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi, has said that based on record supplied to the panel by the IMC, the agency had so far spent N81.5billion, in less than one year.
Adetunmbi added that of the amount, the IMC led by Nunieh, between October 2019 to February 18, 2020, spent a total of N22.5billion, while the current one led by Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, has so far spent N59.1billion. But Nunieh has denied spending such huge sum.