The Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has stated that he never referred to members of the 9th National Assembly as beneficiaries of NDDC contracts.
Mr Akpabio stated this via a letter in response to the request of the speaker.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had, on Tuesday, given Mr Akpabio a 48 hours ultimatum to publish names and other details of National Assembly members who allegedly benefited from contracts of the NDDC.
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The speaker’s call came after an allegation by the minister at an investigative hearing held to probe allegations of corruption in the NDDC that most contracts of the NDDC are given to members of the National Assembly.
The revelation unsettled the hall briefly as the acting chairman of the committee, Thomas Ereyitomi, calmed some members, who charged at the minister.
Mr Akpabio’s letter came halfway into the plenary as the speaker declared the intention of the house to drag him to court on allegations of defamation of character.
Mr Akpabio, in his letter, backtracked and said most lawmakers in the previous assemblies got contracts without their knowledge, as it was handled by the chairmen of both committees.
“I never referred to members of the 9th House of Representatives as beneficiaries of NDDC contracts as the NDDC is yet to fully implement any NDDC budget since the commencement of the 9th National Assembly,” he said.
He however accused the chairman of the house committee on NDDC, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, of mounting pressure on the commision to pay certain contractors before approval of their budget.
“The Director Projects forwarded to me 19 old contracts amounting to nine billion naira which the NDDC Chairman in the house insist the IMC pay for.
“As a former minority leader of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I shall forever hold the ideals of the National Assembly and will not make the entire document public which I got from the lead forensic auditor in confidence.”
On the alleged 60 per cent of contracts, Mr Akpabio said the investigative committee refused and neglected to give him an opportunity to explain himself.
“Permit me to explain that any reference to 60 per cent during the investigative hearing was in answer to a question by a member of the committee as to whether or not, a medical doctor could act as Executive Director project which I answered in affirmative.
“That the greatest project in the world today is COVID-19, which is medical in nature; further more, I am made to understand that 60 per cent of NDDC yearly budget are medical in nature, therefore is better for a medical doctor to serve as the Executive Director Projects,” it read.