The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said on Thursday the Federal Government would prosecute all individuals behind the mismanagement of funds meant for the development of the Niger Delta region.
Malami disclosed during the presentation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) forensic audit report by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
The AGF received the report on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the huge gap between invested resources without commensurate infrastructural development called for the forensic audit of the NDDC.
Malami said: “The call for the audit by the people of the Niger Delta region arose from the huge gaps between resources invested in the region vis a vis the huge gap in infrastructural, human and economic development.
“It is on a record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government has approved N3.3 trillion as budgetary allocation to the Niger Delta.
“A total of N6 trillion was given to the NDDC. Consequently, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the engagement of a Lead Forensic Auditor as well as 16 reputable Audit Firms to conduct the audit exercise.
“The President is delighted that the auditors have now completed this exercise and the report is today being presented.”
He noted that President Buhari was not oblivious of the interest generated by the stakeholders’ towards the forensic audit and the agitation for the constitution of the NDDC Board.
The AGF added: “However, this administration is determined to address the challenges militating against the delivery of the mandate of the NDDC to the people of the Niger Delta Region.
“It is in the broader context of the foregoing developments that the President recently signed into law the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which has been a contentious issue over the years for successive governments.
“The PIA will bring about prudence and accountability in the petroleum sector and to give a sense of participation and ownership to the host communities.”
He assured that the report of the NDDC forensic and the recommendations would therefore be critically analysed for necessary actions and implementation.
“We owe it a duty to the people of the Niger Delta region to improve their standard of living through the provision of adequate infrastructural and socio-economic development.
“The welfare and socio-economic inclusion of the Niger Delta region is paramount to the development and security of the region and by extension the country.
“Funds spent on development activities should as a consequence promote political and socio-economic stability in the region.
“It is evident that considerable resources have been channeled by the federal government to the development of the Niger Delta from 2001 to 2019.
“It is therefore important for the federal government and the public to be properly informed on what has been spent and how that has been spent.
“The essence of the forensic audit is to ensure probity and accountability in the use of public funds.
“It is against this background that the federal government will without hesitation strategically implement all aspects of the audit exercise that will promote probity and greater prosperity for the Niger Delta Region and Nigeria as whole,” he stated.
The AGF said the federal government was particularly concerned about the colossal loss occasioned by the uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta despite the huge resources released to the commission to uplift the living standard of the citizens.
“We have on record over 13,777 projects, the execution of which is substantially compromised. The Federal Government is also concerned with the multitude of NDDC bank accounts amounting to 362 and the lack of proper reconciliation of accounts.
” We will in consequence apply the law to remedy the deficiencies outlined in the audit report as appropriate.
“This will include but not limited to the initiation of criminal investigations, prosecution, recovery of funds not properly utilised for the public purposes for which they were meant and review of the laws to reposition and restructure the NDDC, for efficiency and better service delivery, amongst others.
“In all these instances of action, legal due processes will be strictly complied with,” Malami concluded.