Hundreds of youths protested against the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission on Wednesday in Benin

The protesters who disrupted vehicular and human activities along the busy Murtala Muhammed Way, called for the inauguration of the already cleared members of the board.

They also urged the President, Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to remove the Commission from the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs and return it to the presidency where it was originally domiciled.

The protesters under the auspices of Concerned Edo Citizens in conjunction with Coalition of Edo Volunteers Groups carried placards of various inscriptions accusing the Minister of the Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio of personalising the Commission, alleging that all those calling the shots in the intervention agency were from Akwa Ibom State

In a statement jointly signed by Barr. Eni Balulu, Comrade Eshiefaotsa Sylanus and Comrade Kola Edokpayi, the group demanded, “The immediate inauguration of the substantive Board of NDDC as presently constituted, screened and confirmed by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, since November 2019.

“Remove the agency from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and return it back to the Presidency.

“Release of Government White paper on the forensic audit report submitted to the government on the 2nd September 2021 and take punitive actions against all those found wanting and indicted by the Forensic Audit Report to serve as a deterrent to others.”

They said the noble intention of President Buhari to clean the NDDC has been hijacked by hawks who found willing partners in the new interim arrangement to continue with the nefarious activities in the Commission to the detriment of the Niger Delta people.

“The Interim Management Committee stayed on board for over a year after which a Sole Administrator was appointed with accusation and counter-accusations of fraud, personalisation of contracts award and massive corruption, still persisting.

“As the people of Niger Delta heaved a sigh of relief that the substantive board would be inaugurated, the problem was then compounded by the appointment of a Sole Administrator for the Commission in continuous violation of the extant laws guiding it.”

They said they suspect the report of the forensic audit may have indicted some “big fishes” and that is why the government is reluctant to make it public.

“Mr President, the people of Niger Delta see you as the father of modern-day Nigeria and hold no grudges against you. Just as the North East Development Commission is tackling the challenges of the North East Region, we expect and demand that the NDDC be inaugurated to tackle the Niger Delta region challenges,” the group added.

 

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