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NDDC Contracts: Orji Kalu, Uduaghan Deny Wrongdoing

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Former Niger-Delta states Governors, Orji Kalu and Emmanuel Uduaghan on Monday denied any wrongdoing regarding their involvement in Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contracts.

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, had reportedly mentioned both former Governors as beneficiaries of NDDC contracts.

However, Kalu, who was Abia State Governor between 1999 to 2007, said his involvement in NDDC contracting had been based on community interest.

“Between 2016- 2018 during my tour to several communities; leaders and welfare unions of most communities pleaded for urgent intervention on some dilapidated roads,” he said, in a statement signed by one of his aides, Emeka Nwala, “I wrote to the NDDC informing the body of the conditions of these roads and the need for their attention since Abia is an NDDC state.

“The NDDC in their consideration which I am very grateful to awarded the roads to companies that duly tendered for the projects and not myself. Whatever link I have with the projects is because it was considered due to my intervention.”

Meanwhile, former Delta State Governor, Uduaghan, described reports linking him to an NDDC contract as “mischievous” and a “falsehood.”

“In the said publication, it was stated that ‘Uduaghan was linked to the emergency repairs of Close B, Alhaji Estate & Environs, Rumuodomaya, Port Harcourt at a cost of N429m’,” a statement signed by Uduaghan’s spokesman, Monoyo Edon, said.

“We want to state very clearly that the said accusation is FALSE. Dr. Uduaghan has never approached the NDDC for any contract whatsoever. It is even more ridiculous that the said contract is a road inside Port Harcourt town.”

Unpaid Contractors
In his statement on Monday, Kalu, who is now the Chief Whip of the Senate, alleged that the NDDC is yet to pay contractors who built the roads he facilitated for the commission.

“The roads I requested for intervention as mentioned by the Honourable Minister were repairs of Ezere-Acha-Ndiokoukwu Road; Amaubiri-Eluama-Uru Ring Road, Lokpaukwu, Umuchieze; Ndi Oji Abam-Atan Road; the Okafia-Ozuitem-Bende road and Ozu-Amuru-Abam Road,” he said.

“The contractors have completed and delivered these roads a long time ago except Abam-Atani road which I learned from the contractors was slowed down due to rain but still ongoing.

“Meanwhile, it would interest Nigerians to know that the contractors who built these roads have not been paid any dime. It has not been easy with the contractors but because it’s a community project they have only but kept hope alive on the NDDC.”

A Troubled Commission
The NDDC is currently undergoing a forensic audit over allegations of financial misappropriation within the agency.

Supervising Minister for the Commission, Akpabio, had appeared before a House of Representatives Committee in July where he said lawmakers were the major beneficiaries of NDDC contracts.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila then challenged Akpabio to provide a list of lawmakers who have benefited from the agency’s contract.

Kalu, on Monday, said the linking of his name to the contracts will not push him to stop his interventions on roads in NDDC states.

“Good roads help to drive the economy,” he said. “Therefore, I believe the NDDC forensic audit should focus on the missing funds and not works done.

“They should focus on paying contractors that delivered their jobs and not using my name indiscriminately to sell newspapers.

“The Honourable Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio is my good old friend. We have been friends even before I became a governor.

“I hope he doesn’t expect me to stop seeking road interventions in our communities.

“It is his civic responsibility to support the communities and I am very confident he will oblige our future requests especially in areas of good roads.”

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Buhari Seeks Senate Approval for Fresh N2.3trn External Loan

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The President, Muhammadu Buhari , has asked the Senate to approve another N2.3trillion ($6.18bn) external loan.

This is contained in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and read at plenary on Tuesday.

Buhari said the proposed loan which is equivalent to N2.3trillion is to finance the 2021 budget deficit of N5.6 trillion.

Buhari said the loan would enable the Federal Government to fund critical infrastructural projects in transportation, health, and education among others.

This is coming barely a month after the Senate approved the sum of $1.5bn and €995 million external borrowings for the Federal Government.

The loans were part of the $5.5 billion and €995 million external borrowings Buhari had, in May 2020, asked the Red Chamber to approve to finance various priority projects of the federal government and to support the state governments facing fiscal challenges.

Details later…

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Armed Thugs Disrupt NLC Protest in Kaduna, Wabba Accuses El-Rufai

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The protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress on Tuesday turned violent as armed thugs attacked the workers, throwing stones at them.

The workers had converged at the popular NEPA roundabout in the Kaduna capital city to continue the day two of their protest when the thugs invaded the area and started throwing stones and other dangerous weapons at them.

The attack forced many of the protesters to scamper for safety.

It is not known who actually sent the thugs, but the NLC Chairman, Ayuba Wabba has pointed accusing fingers at the state governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

Speaking with newsmen amid the protest, Wabba said he informed the DSS after he received earlier information of the plan to disrupt the protest.

“Today is a very sad moment in the history of democracy in Nigeria. Early in the morning today, we got credible information that El-Rufai has hired one Alhaji Hassan and some thugs to come and attack us.

“While we are here, they came but thank God we have chased them away because we have the number. We are not thugs And We Are Not Using Thugs we are Nigerian workers,” Wabba told Channels Television.

The armed thugs were dispersed by security operatives with teargas.

Wabba is leading day two of the NLC protest despite being declared wanted by the Kaduna State government.

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Nigeria Receives £4.2m Ibori Loot

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Nigeria has received the £4.2million seized from the associates of convicted former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori from the United Kingdom.

This is according to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who disclosed this on Tuesday via a statement issued by his spokesman, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu.

He confirmed that the “Federal Government of Nigeria has received GBP 4,214,017.66 of the loot associated with the family members of former Delta State Governor, James Ibori.”

According to the statement, “the amount has been credited into the designated Federal Government account with naira equivalent value of the amount as of 10th May 2021.”

Malami was said to have signed the Memorandum of Understanding for the repatriation of the Ibori loot on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The Minister said the development was a demonstration of the recognition of reputation Nigeria earns through records of management of recovered stolen Nigerian stolen in the execution of public-oriented projects.

On May 3, Malami had announced that the United Kingdom would repatriate the looted fund to Nigeria any moment from now.

He had explained that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was working tirelessly to ensure the return of looted Nigerian assets kept outside the country’s territorial boundaries, adding that that the Federal Government of Nigeria was in touch with the UK government on the matter.

“Documentations with the banks in different countries often take longer than anticipated. We anticipated two weeks but we are not in control of the banks.

“There is neither complacency nor any delay as efforts are being made to ensure successful transfer of the looted funds,” he said.

He noted that the Federal Government is working assiduously to make sure that the transfer goes through successfully.

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