NDDC contractor forfeits N250 million to FG

A contractor has been ordered to temporarily forfeit the sum of N250 million to the Federal Government by a Federal High Court in Lagos.

The money was diverted from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the contractor.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa gave the temporary forfeiture order following an ex-parte application filed by Usman Buhari, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the court.

According to the EFCC Counsel, the contractor had illegally diverted the sum from the NDDC, through a contract awarded by the Federal Government.

He also prayed for an order directing the publication of the interim forfeiture in a national newspaper for anyone interested to, within 14 days, show why a final order of forfeiture should not be made on the sum in the government’s favour.

Justice Aikawa, in a short ruling, granted all the reliefs and adjourned further proceedings till July 9, 2020.

Over the years there have been a series of allegations of diversion of funds at the NDDC.

In 2015 the then Auditor General of the Federation Samuel Ukura affirmed that over N183 billion was missing from the accounts of the Commission despite denials by its officials.

President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2019 ordered a forensic audit on the operations of the NDDC from 2001 to 2019 in a move to check the excesses of corrupt officials in the agency at the expense of the Niger Delta.

In February, the president also approved the composition of a committee to monitor the activities of the Commission.

Also in March, he revealed that over N3.7 billion and other assets have been recovered from former directors and contractors of the NDDC by the EFCC.

The NDDC was set up in 2000 by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to fast-track development in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

Twenty years later, the region still remains backwards in terms of infrastructure and standard of living, despite the huge amount of money made from oil exploration in the area.