Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have detained the former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Obong Nsima Ekere for alleged diversion of funds to the tune of N47 billion through registered contractors of the agency during his time in office.
The Anti-graft Commission’s Spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, who confirmed the development on Wednesday, said Ekere was arrested in Lagos after the Commission beamed its searchlight on NDDC following allegations of massive corruption in the interventionist agency.
His arrest is the latest scandal to have been linked to the NDDC after President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2019, ordered a forensic audit of the agency since its establishment in 2001.
Buhari, who decried the massive corruption in the NDDC, vowed that his administration would recover “every kobo” stolen from the agency.
“The serial abuse, lack of delivery, and what had become an entrenched institutional decay was the reason why I called for the forensic audit,” he said in December 2021 while commissioning the NDDC Prototype Hostel at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom.
“Therefore, going forward we shall ensure every recoverable kobo is recovered for use in service of the people of this region, and those found culpable shall face the Law.”
Before then, the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Godswill Akpabio had said there are 13, 000 abandoned projects in the region.
“The report of the audit committee showed that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta and even before the submission of the report some contractors have returned to site on their own and completed about 77 road projects,” the former Akwa Ibom governor said when he submitted the audit report to Buhari in September 2021.
Ekere, a native of Ikot Oboroenyin, Edemaya Clan, Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, was the NDDC’s Managing Director from 2016 to 2018 before resigning to take part in the 2019 Governorship election in Akwa Ibom which he lost to Governor Udom Emmanuel.
He is the third high-profile individual arrested by the EFCC for alleged corruption in the last 48 hours after the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, and ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh.