President Muhammadu Buhari has directed relevant stakeholders and agencies to promptly begin investigation into an approximated six trillion naira released to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in the last eight years.
He said the process would include criminal investigations, prosecution, recovery of funds not properly utilized for the public purposes for which they were meant for amongst others.
Buhari gave the directive on Thursday in Abuja after receiving the final forensic audit report from the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio.
The president who was represented by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami, said that the law would be applied to remedy the deficiencies outlined in the audit report.
He added that throughout the probe, legal due process would be strictly complied with as there would no cases of rights infringement by those carrying out the investigation
According to the President, the forensic audit report will be forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Justice for a legal review and relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government will be engaged in doing justice to the findings accordingly.
Buhari said, “It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government has approved N3, 375, 735,776,794.93 as budgetary allocation and N2,420,948,894,191.00 as Income from Statutory and Non Statutory Sources, which brings the total figure to the sum of approximately N6 trillion given to the Niger Delta Development Commission.
“The Federal Government is particularly concerned with the colossal loss occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta region, in spite of the huge resources made available to uplift the living standard of the citizens.
“We have on record over 13,777 projects, the execution of which is substantially compromised. The Federal Government is also concerned with the multitudes of Niger Delta Development Commission’s bank accounts amounting to 362 and lack of proper reconciliation of accounts.”
The president argued that with the misappropriated funds, it was clear that considerable resources have been channelled by the government to the development of the Niger Delta from 2001 to 2019, adding that it was therefore important for the government and the public to be properly informed of what has been spent and how that has been spent.
“The essence of the forensic audit is to ensure probity and accountability in the use of public funds. It is against this background that the Federal Government will without hesitation strategically implement all aspects of the audit exercise that will promote probity and greater prosperity for the Niger Delta Region and Nigeria as whole,” he said.