Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has debunked several claims against his person by the erstwhile Acting Managing Director of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC), Ms Gbene Joi Nunieh, describing the claims by the former NDDC boss as a cornucopia of false, malicious, and libellous.
Akpabio in a statement issued Wednesday by his Special Adviser on Media, Anietie Ekong, said the press interviews granted recently by Nunieh and published in the media and social media platforms, are concerted vicious campaigns of calumny deviously orchestrated by her against his person ranging from allegations of corruption, sexual and workplace harassments, pipelines bombings, secret cult activities, abuse of office, amongst other lies peddled by her.
He said Nunieh’s attacks are both personal and sponsored, adding that those afraid of the truth, and who wish to bury it from seeing the light of the day, are strenuously behind Nunieh’s vicious campaign of calumny.
He also disclosed that Akpabio has taken steps to instruct his lawyers to seek necessary redress in a court of competent jurisdiction on his behalf over the defamatory statements made by Nunieh.
The minister while encouraging all Nigerians to hold their leaders to account, urged them to take their time to sift between the chaff and the substance before embarking on far-reaching allegations, opinions and views.
Akpabio said he is committed to the mandate from President Muhammadu Buhari to unearth alleged looting and financial misappropriation that had gone on at the NDDC since its inception in 2001 through the forensic audit of the NDDC and will not be deterred or distracted from that goal.
The statement disclosed that “the aim of the campaign of calumny is simpler get Senator Akpabio out, kill the forensic audit, and continue business as usual at the NDDC.”
Commenting on the allegation of sexual advances as claimed by Nunieh, Akpabio’s spokesman said the minister, who is happily married with four daughters, is as an avid believer of the Affirmative Action and that was visible in the appointments he made as a two-term governor of Akwa Ibom State between 2007 and 2015 by appointing several women into various high-level positions as Chairpersons of Local Government Councils, Magistrates, Judges, Heads of Parastatals, Directors, Permanent Secretaries and Commissioners.
The statement reads in part: “The Honourable Minister’s initial attitude was to allow his lawyers and the judicial system vindicate him of the false allegations against him, but he is compelled to react to some wayward allegations levied against his person by Ms Nunieh, especially the one bothering on sexual harassment.
“There is no scintilla of truth in all the allegations peddled around by Ms Nunieh. They are simply false! The Honourable Minister did not at any time, place or circumstance make any form of sexual advances to Ms. Nunieh, not even to put himself in a position or posture suggestive of sexual advances towards Ms. Nunieh, or any female staff of his Ministry or the NDDC.
“The Honourable Minister has never fen his admiration and respect for his wife, Mrs Ekaete Akpabio, Children and sisters, he therefore felt compelled to react to the malicious attack on his person by Ms Nunieh bothering on allegations of sexual harassment. The Honourable Minister, therefore, finds the said allegation nauseating and very cheap blackmail, for Ms Nunieh to suggest or insinuate that he sexually harassed her, while she was the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC.
“The Honourable Minister also finds it appalling that Ms Nunieh, never deemed it fit to report the alleged incident to the police at the earliest opportunity she had, before, during or after her tenor as the Acting Managing Director on 17th February 2020, if indeed the allegation was true. Waiting till July 10th and 13th 2020 when the National Assembly appears to be probing some of her actions as the Acting Managing Director of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) exposes her motive, especially at a time when the momentum for the Forensic Audit.
“Investigation of the NDDC is heating up and the truth is about to be unveiled for all to see? The critical question is who is afraid of the Forensic Audit at the NDDC? Who is Afraid of the Truth?”
Reacting to the allegations of the minister’s involvement in contract racketeering, the bombing of oil pipelines, corruption/diversion of funds, Akpabio’s spokesman stated that “the Minister has stated several times and at various fora that since his assumption of office, he has only awarded three contracts till date- the appointment of the lead forensic auditors which was approved by the Federal Executive Council the emergency procurement contract for COVID-19 intervention in the Niger Delta Area which due to its urgency had his interim approval and Presidential approval in line with the Bureau of Public Procurement Act and the award of Vehicles procurement duly approved by the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Federal Executive Council but yet to be consummated. It is noteworthy, that all these contracts went through due processes.”
On the allegation that the Minister directed her (Nunieh) to change the Dollars in the NDDC’s Account, the statement disclosed that “for the records, it should be noted that NDDC’s Account is domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria. Every inflow and outflow is known and traceable. NDDC gets its revenue in Dollars which is paid directly to its Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Dollar is then converted to Naira by the CBN and paid into the NDDC Naira Account still domiciled with the CBN upon a written application from the NDDC. It is therefore impossible for any sum of money belonging to the NDDC with the CBN including the several figures bandied around as missing to be missing.
“It is important to state, that unlike in the past where the NDDC had over 300 bank accounts in different commercial banks, that practice had since changed under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, which gave full effect to the application of the Treasury Single Account and the NDDC now has its accounts with the CBN.
The Honourable Minister does not give verbal instructions to anybody; all instructions are in writing and in response to a request from the Commission.”
Akpabio also described the allegation by Nunieh that the minister directed her to remove Mr. Kaltungo, as false.
The statement said Akpabio’s track record marks him out as a totally detribalised politician and one of the best friends of Northern Nigeria.
“The Honourable Minister was informed by the NDDC management that over 23 top Management Staff, from various part of Nigeria including the Niger Delta region, who have evaded leave in the last 10 years or had the tendency to influence negatively the ongoing forensic audit were recommended for mandatory leave by the lead forensic auditors. They are still a staff of the Commission currently receiving their monthly salaries and benefits.”