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West Africa

Threats, blackmail won’t stop NDDC probe – House

The House of Representatives said on Tuesday that it will not succumb to any form of threat, intimidation or blackmail in its quest to unravel the mysteries surrounding allegations and counter allegations of corruption rocking the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The House also said it decided to carry out the investigation as part of its legislative function, adding the exercise has not in any way hindered the forensic audit of the commission ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Reacting to series of allegation, Chairman of Committee on Niger Delta, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, also denied claims by the Executive Director, Project of the IMC, Dr. Cairo Ojuogoh the House was sitting on the Commission’s 2020 budget.

He insisted that the delay by the Commission in submitting its 2019 budget performance was responsible for the delay in passing the 2020 budget.

He said since threat and intimidation has not succeeded in stopping the National Assembly from carrying out its functions, those involved in the allegations have resorted to blackmail, adding that anyone who has nothing to hide should come forward to defend themselves of the allegations instead of throwing tantrums.

Tunji-Ojo dismissed claims of award of emergency contract not budgeted for by the commission, saying “Obviously, this is sheer blackmail and we expected this from the onset when the investigation process started.

The bottom line is that we are not going to be deterred. This is coming after threat to life by militants and different text messages which has failed. The next agenda to stop the legislative work is blackmail. I can say it categorically that we are more determined to work for the people of the Niger Delta”

He said it was it part of budget indiscipline for any body to award a contract for a project that was not budgeted for.

Reacting to allegations that he demanded for payment for an emergency training, which was smuggled into the 2019 budget, the lawmaker said: “I have gone through the 2019 budget as approved and I can tell you that there is no provision for emergency training and so.

” I don’s know what he is talking about. I have said it before and let me repeat it for emphasis sake that I dont have a single contract in NDDC. It started with a 17 kilometre road which they could not substantiate and now, they have come up with another thing. We are only expecting more.

” I have never had any contract with NDDC, I am not a contractor with NDDC, I have never worked for NDDC and I have never been paid by NDDC for anything.

“I am the chairman of this committee by the grace of God and I know the responsibilities on my shoulders. I know that the Niger Delta is looking up to us for succour, for intervention, for help and for a greater tomorrow. We will not mortgage of the Niger Delta people for sake of our today. That will not happen.

“I don’t have a contract, and I repeat, I dont have a contract. It is an indictment on their part if they claim that there was an award for none budgeted item. That is a very serious offence which the National Assembly must look into.”

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