Port Harcourt — Oil and gas host communities in Delta State have petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, demanding the probe of Former Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, over alleged diversion of N1.07 trillion from the 13 percent oil derivation funds accruable to the state.
The petitioners consisting of leaders and representatives of Ijaw, Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isoko and Ndokwa ethnic groups, accused the former governor of not remitting 50percent legally prescribed allocation to the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, throughout his administration from 2015 to 2023.
Reading out the petition during a peaceful protest in Abuja, leader of the aggrieved host communities and representative of Ijaw ethnic nationality in the petition, Chief Mulade Sheriff, charged the leadership of EFCC to leave no stone unturned in ensuring the diverted money is fully recovered for the host communities.
Sheriff explained that the law establishing DESOPADEC stipulates that the Commission shall receive and administer exclusively 50 percent of the 13percent oil derivation fund accruing to the Delta State for the rehabilitation of the oil producing communities of the state, and other development projects as may be determined from time to time.
He lamented that between 2022 and 2023 DESOPADEC has been moribund, as the oil producing communities were nose-diving into abject poverty, which he said was causing youth restiveness, even when the state received over N1trilion between 2015 and 2022 from the federal government 13percent oil derivative.
The petition reads in part, “We wish to draw the attention of the general public, particularly, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to the illegal diversion of our entitlement from the 13% derivation funds.
“We are indigenes and members of the Oil and Gas Producing Communities in Delta State and it’s on this strength we are drawing the attention of your office in respect of the flagrant and deliberate abuse of Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and section 13 (1) of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) Law of 2006 (as amended), 2007, 2015 and 2018 established to cater for the wellbeing of the Oil and Gas Producing Communities in Delta State,
“From the records available to us upon an application to the Office of the Accountant- General of the Federation for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the 13% oil derivation fund from the Federation Account to the Delta State Government between 2015-2022, the sum of N1,077,450,285,552.17 has been disbursed to the Delta State Government from July 2015 to December 2022, for the Rehabilitation and Development of the oil Producing Communities/Areas in Delta State.
“In fact, what Okowa received is far more than N1,077,450,285,552.17 if the 13% monthly allocations of January 2023 to May 2023 are added.
“By section 13(1) of the DESOPADEC Law 2006 (as amended) 2007, 2015 and 2018, the Commission is legally and lawfully entitled to 50percent from the 13% oil derivation fund from the Federation Account, which is calculated at N538,725,142,776.85 from the Delta State Government.
“That from the information obtained, it is obvious that the Delta Government grossly underfunded the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission as it was in the habit of consistently and deliberately disbursing less than the sum of N20billion only annually for the past eight years.
“Sir, unfortunately all efforts by our communities’ leaders and other well-meaning personalities in Delta State to have the Delta State Government to obey, observe and comply with the DESOPADEC law and render account for the said misappropriated fund have proved abortive hence this petition.
“It is very nauseating that despite the stupendous billions of Naira being paid to the Delta State Government from the 13% oil derivation fund from the Federation Account, oil producing communities continue to wallow in abject poverty with no commensurate basic infrastructures in place. This gross and reckless misappropriation of the 13% oil derivation fund meant for the kil producing communities largely account for the incessant restiveness and agitations in the Niger Delta Region.
“We are strongly appealing to the EFCC to probe and investigate the immediate-past Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, to recover and return our money, the 50percent of the 13% oil derivation fund from the Federation Account to the State Government and render necessary account for the said illegally and unlawfully misappropriated balance to DESOPADEC coffers, to enable them develop our communities.”
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