APC urges Delta lawmakers to probe DESOPADEC’s allegedly missing N48.6 billion

A probe of the allegedly missing N48.6billion that accrued to Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) since May, 2015 is urgently necessary, the All Progressives Congress (APC) said at the weekend.

In fact, the party demanded that Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa be probed by the Delta State House of Assembly on the issue.

According to a statement by state APC chairman, Prophet Jones Ode Erue, it represents 50 per cent of N97.2 billion that accrued and had been paid by the Federal Government in respect of 13 per cent derivation funds that is specifically meant for developing oil-producing areas in Delta.

Following an allegation by Delta APC that the fund was yet to be remitted to DESOPADEC and the call on Okowa to account for its whereabouts, the governor, through his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagu, had said: “The money was deducted to service several financial debts and commitments of the state government. The governor said whatever had accrued to the state from the 13 per cent derivation had been depleted before it reached government coffers. They have forgotten that we have obligations. We have debts that are deducted before the money even gets to the state on accounts of existing debts, in terms of contractuals, in terms of the bonds as well as the rescheduled loans from the Federal Government.”

But the APC said: “Based on his admission above, the governor has diverted the said DESOPADEC funds to improper use. This is misappropriation. If true, Governor Okowa has acted in clear breach of his duties and responsibility to the citizens of Delta State, and particularly the oil-producing areas under the extant laws of Delta State that established DESOPADEC. These so-called debts are of an unknown origin, meaning or impact. It is also obvious that they are a statewide responsibility and should not and cannot be repaid by the funds that have accrued solely to oil-producing areas.”

Delta APC, therefore, called for a probe of Okowa on “the basis of the following imperatives: “Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission Law” (also referred to as ‘DESOPADEC LAW 2015’) as amended by Governor Okowa himself came into force on 6th August, 2015.

APC noted that Part II Section 13 (i) a & b of this law categorically stipulates that DESOPADEC shall receive and administer exclusively the fifty per cent (50%) of the thirteen per cent (13%) Oil Derivation Fund accruing to the state for (a) the rehabilitation and development of oil-producing areas and (b) other development projects as may be determined from time to time by the commission.

APC went on: “Also, Part V, Section 20 (Expenditure of the Commission) clearly states that the funds of the commission shall be applied in the interest of oil- producing areas only, and it makes no case whatsoever for the intrusion, diversion or misappropriation by the governor of the derivation funds for payment of accrued debts of the state.

“Therefore, the claim by Okowa that his government has diverted the funds to ‘service several financial debts and commitments of the state government’ is not tenable under DESOPADEC Law, 2015. Governor Okowa has acted with impunity against the law. By consciously abandoning the vested interests of oil-producing areas and diverting the funds meant for addressing its development needs, which in turn helps to curb agitation and hostilities, Okowa’s so-called ‘SMART’ agenda can be deduced as Shrewd, Mean, Appalling, Reckless and Terrible. In fact, this action has deepened the poverty within the communities and further impoverished the long-suffering people of oil-producing areas.

“If we concede that Okowa does not grasp the link between suppressing development in oil-producing areas and the upsurge of militancy and kidnappings, can we assume that he is so blinded that he must lay his hands on DESOPADEC funds against the existing laws of the state which he passed himself? Worse still, could this not be frustrating the effort of the Federal Government at securing the much-needed peace within the region? It is, therefore, not unreasonable to infer that Okowa ought to be held largely liable for the continuing unrest, violence and hostilities that have persisted in the oil-producing areas of Delta State.”

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