How NDDC Officials ‘Diverted’ Funds Into Personal Accounts – Kolawole Johnson - CHANNELS TV
BY Akinola Ajibola
The investigation into the allegations of financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has continued to generate mixed reactions and controversy in the country.
This comes as the National Assembly probes the N40 billion fraud said to have been perpetrated by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC between February and May 2020.
The controversy took a new twist on Sunday when drama played out between the NDDC Executive Director of Project, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, and a researcher, Kolawole Johnson.
Both men were involved in a heated debate during their appearance on the weekend edition of Channels Television’s political programme – Sunday Politics.
The war of words was a fallout of the revelation of alleged corruption in the NDDC, including the diversion of funds meant for project execution and students studying abroad under the scholarship programme of the commission.
Johnson, who is the Head of Research at the Act for Positive Transformation Initiatives, made the disclosure but Ojougboh insisted that there was nothing of such.
He decried that some of the students were facing hardship and dying abroad while members of the present IMC of the NDDC were allegedly enjoying the money meant for the students.
“Let me give you specifically, on the 17th of April around 16:24 GMT, Dr Cairo paid himself money due to students (postgraduate scholarship) into his account number 1002428409,” the researcher said.
He added, “The MD paid himself again into his UBA account number 1002290165; this money is due to students abroad and they are paying themselves. There are other staff (members) who got payment.”
The researcher also revealed that some members of staff of the NDDC benefited from monies paid to contractors, stressing that he has the record for each payment.
He insisted that the level of corruption within the commission was alarming and dared the lawmakers to make the proposed investigative hearing a live session.
“I can read to you, staff who got money from contractors one by one; the dates they got them, I have them.
“I pray that the House (of Representatives) will have the guts to give us live hearing, Nigerians will hear a lot. I want to open the can of worms; now I am ready, thank you,” Johnson said.
We Have Nothing To Hide
Although the NDDC MD was not available for an immediate response, Ojougboh dismissed them as untrue.
He explained that he could not have had the intention to divert government funds for personal use and execute such a plan with his personal details.
The NDDC official said, “If I want to steal money from the government, I will not write my name and my account number. The money he is talking about is for a trip to see our students who are graduating in September.”
He was later interrupted by the researcher who asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide the details of the transactions.
Johnson said, “Let us challenge the CBN to bring out the details of that payment, let us challenge the Accountant-General of the Federation to bring out the details of that payment; I challenge them to bring it out.”
In his response, Ojougboh asked Johnson not to interrupt him and allow him to explained how the funds were being spent for the purpose they were meant for.
He said, “We have over 1,000 students overseas; so when they are graduating and from time to time as the executive, you have to visit the students and discuss with the universities to know that the money the NDDC is paying is not being wasted, and that is what these things are meant for.”
“I am a medical doctor, I graduated 35 years ago. What am I doing postgraduate studies for? So please be calm, if you want the record, come, we will show you, we will explain to you, and that is what we told them in the Senate, we have nothing to hide,” the NDDC official told the researcher.
Johnson, however, queried why the commission did not provide the details of its expenditure, but Ojougboh responded that he should write to the NDDC and he would be invited.
“I am a civilised man; I am a soldier of truth, I am a promise keeper … so, if you ask for an explanation, I will give it to you,” Ojougboh said.