By Ignatius Okorocha
The Senate, on Tuesday lambasted those criticizing it for investigating the alleged N40billion financial impropriety in Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC ) by the Interim Management Committee ( IMC) of the Commission within the first three months of the year.
The Senate’s warning to those fighting against it for the planned probe, was sequel to fresh request for extension of time, made by the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee , mandated to carry out the investigation , Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi ( APC Ekiti North ).
Adetunbi had, in making the request anchored on order 43 of the Senate standing rule , complained that perhaps due to COVID-19 pandemic and attendant lockdowns, many of the stakeholders invited by the committee did not respond on time but gradually indicating interest of honouring invitations sent to them .
Consequently, he requested the Senate to grant the committee additional six weeks to carry out the investigation .
But in ruling on the request, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said six weeks was too long and rather reduced the period to four weeks.
He wished the Committee a very successful exercise and urged it to remain focus as far as the planned investigation on finances of NDDC under the Interim Management Committee ( IMC) was concerned .
“The move by the Senate in this direction, has generated a lot of controversies driven by vested interests .
” So many side attractions , detractions and disruptions pro or against the planned investigation are being carried out by people or groups of people .
” Part of the distractions are series of write ups in the media by the vested groups almost on daily basis but unfortunately, all these cannot stop the Senate from forging ahead with an assignment backed by resolution and firmly within the ambit of its constitutional responsibilities .
“So, in their own interest, the earlier they stop the distractions the better , because our committee will forge ahead with the assignment,” the Senate President said.
Recalled that parts of the distractions trailing the planned investigation exercise, was allegation of witch-hunt levelled against the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly by the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Kemebradikumo Pondei that the move was allegedly made to frustrate the ongoing forensic auditing being carried out there by the Presidency .
The allegations and counter allegations worsened with approaches taken by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi ( PDP Delta North) .
Both had in the past weeks, been attacking each other through proxies.
While Nwaoboshi through documents given to journalists, alleged that Akpabio collected contracts worth N500million from NDDC in 2017 without executing them despite receiving full payment, Akpabio on the other hand , fired back through the IMC by alleging that Nwaoboshi collected N3.6billion worth of contracts from the commission in 2016 without execution.