The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nsima Ekere, over various corruption allegations.
Sources with direct knowledge of the case told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Ekere was detained after he surrendered himself at the commission’s office in Lagos on Wednesday.
“Mr Ekere has been under investigations for years. He surrendered himself for arrest on Wednesday after realising that the commission was closing in on him,” one of the sources who pleaded not to be named because they did not get authorisation to speak to journalists on the matter, told this newspaper.
The sources said the 56-year-old, who served as the managing director and chief executive officer of the NDDC between 2017 and 2018, is being investigated over allegations of contract inflation and award of fictitious contracts during his time in office.
Mr Ekere, who allegedly committed the offences starting from 2017, according to sources, allegedly laundered funds from NDDC accounts through contractors to buy choice properties in Lagos.
The EFCC, on Tuesday, similarly detained a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh, for allegedly receiving a suspicious N130 million payment from a contractor awarded a solar-powered electrification project in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s South-South.
The said contract was awarded to a certain Phin Jin Project Limited in 2011 for N240 million. It remains unclear if the company is registered with Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission. A search of its name on the CAC online directory did not throw up any option.
Investigators are now saying weeks after the contractor was paid the mobilisation fee for the project, N130 million was transferred to Mrs Etteh who is neither a director nor a shareholder of the company on record.
Mrs Etteh was Speaker between June 6, 2007, and 30 October 30, 2007.
The NDDC, an agency set up to address the peculiar developmental challenges of oil producing states in Nigeria, has performed poorly in achieving the goals for which it was set up due to corruption.
In 2021, an audit report ordered by President Muhamamdu Buhari, revealed that over 13,000 projects were abandoned in the region since the creation of the agency.
Mr Ekere, who hails from Akwa Ibom State, one of the mandate areas of the interventionist agency, defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress in 2015.
He was the leader of the G22, a group of 22 disgruntled PDP governorship aspirants for the 2015 governorship, who defected to the APC after losing the governorship primary election of the PDP to the incumbent governor of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom.
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