NDDC director Ita accused by ICPC of using NGOs to embezzle government funds

A director in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Solomon Okpa Ita has been accused by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), of using Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) as fronts to embezzle government money.
ICPC’s Spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, alleged that the money had been used to acquire property under contention.
Okoduwa said that the director could not show evidence that the property were obtained with his legitimate earnings, adding that investigation revealed that Ita, in one instance, facilitated the payment of N20 million into the account of one of the NGOs, which was then transferred to a bank account of a third party.
She further alleged that the third party, while acting on instructions from the director, was said to have transferred the same amount to one Ita Williams Okpa, for onward handing over to the director.
The spokesperson maintained that another illegal transaction of N45 million was made through the same channel for his personal use.She, however, disclosed that the commission had asked a Federal High Court, Abuja, to order the interim forfeiture of a petrol station and a warehouse, among others, belonging to Ita.
Meanwhile, a rights activist, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, has faulted the composition of the board of the NDDC, alleging that President Muhammadu Buhari breached the rotational clause in the enabling law establishing the interventionist agency.
Lori-Ogbebor, who spoke yesterday in Lagos, contended that since it was Delta in line of succession to Senator Victor Udoma-Egba, who last held the chairmanship of the commission, it would therefore be constitutional to appoint from the area with the highest oil quota in the state to the post and that of the chief executive.
The activist, who urged a reversal of the composition of the board in the interest of peace in the Niger Delta region, claimed that the current managing director-nominee, Chief Bernard Okumagba, an Okere-Urhobo native of Warri, was not from an oil-producing area as spelt out in the extant law, adding that in the spirit of justice, the position and that of chairman should go to the Itsekiri as the “highest producer of crude oil in Delta State.”
In another development, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has said that the appointment of Okumagba as Managing Director of the NDDC will help to turn around the commission.
MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagabara, who described Okumagba as a seasoned technocrat and a man of integrity, said his nomination depicts a real square peg in a square hole.
MOSOP said it was confident that Okumagba would bring with him his vast experience that cuts across several fields, particularly in resource management and human capital development, to bear on this new assignment with grit and vigour and ensure that the needed turnaround for the NDDC is achieved, particularly to meet the dreams and aspirations of the founding-fathers. MOSOP also applauded the nomination of Dr. Joi Yime Nunieh as the Rivers State representative on the reconstituted board of the NDDC.

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