…Probe panel chairman, Hon. Tunji-Ojo recuses himself

BY VICTOR BUORO, ABUJA – The House of Representatives Public Hearing probing the N81.5 billion spent by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) within two months during the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown took a different dimension on Monday.

This followed the sudden collapse of the Acting Managing Director Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei which took every body at the venue of the public hearing by surprise.

Pondei had last week Thursday walked out on the House of Reps panel, saying that he and members of his management had nothing to submit to the panel just as he accused the Chairman of the Panel Hon Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo of sittin g over his own case since he benefitted from contract awards from the Commission.

At the commencement of probe hearing on Monday, the House Committee Chairman of the NDDC, Hon Tunji-Ojo recused himself from the panel, a development that took the acting Managing Director, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei, Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and other members of the IMC of the Commission by surprise thus had no choice than to face the probe panel.

Hon. Tunji-ojo shortly before recusing himself from the probe panel, said that he is ready to face the anti-corruption agencies over allegation of corruption, adding that it has become the norm now that whenever a probe of an agency is being carried out, members of the executive are quick at pointing accusing fingers that are not true as against responding to probing questions.

Following the stepping aside of Hon Tunji-Ojo from the panel, his deputy, Hon. Thomas Ereyitomi (PDP-Delta), stepped in as a replacement.

In what took everybody by surprise, Prof Pondei while listening to the comment of a member of the panel that was grilling him which was to be followed by a question, slumped on his seat, a development that led some staff of the NDDC to move to resuscitate and get him back to life.

Before he suddenly slumped, the committee had grilled him for about 45 minutes over the allegations in the spending of the N81.5billion spent within two months.

After his being resuscitated, Pondei had to leave the hall since he couldn’t continue with the grilling owing to his health condition thus was unable to continue his defence.


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