The report emanating from the 9th session of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Retd. Gen. Muhammad Buba Marwa has shunned the investigative hearing by the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly on the alleged mismanagement of N467 million, has been described as a blackmail and a media spin automated and escalated by the Senate Committee in an attempt to bamboozle, intimidate and harass the Chief Executive Officer of the NDLEA into submission for a behind the doors negotiation for consequential Financial inducements.
Prominent pro-democracy and Not-for-profit organisation- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked the Senate to stop the unnecessary distractions targeted at the maximum disruption of the effectiveness and overwhelming combative approaches against dreaded hard drugs’ barons and traffickers currently being waged vigorously by the just appointed Chairman, Chief Executive Officer of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency Retired Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa who wasn’t the person in charge at the time of the alleged financial infractions being investigated by the Senate.
“HURIWA is in the possession of unassailable evidence that the current leadership of NDLEA were never served with any summons or invitations by the Senate Public accounts Committee headed by Senator Mathew Uroghide. How do you go to the media and cast aspersions on the head of a government agency who is unaware that his presence is required before the Senators? This ambushing pattern is the past time of the National Assembly members aimed at deploying the media of mass communication to first demonise a public office holder with seemingly yet unblemished records and then to go behind to engage in negotiations for alleged bribes for the members.”
“Since the year 2019 both houses of the National Assembly have done the same things to many Federal agencies yet this same National Assembly has been unable to specifically stop some notoriously corrupt Directors General of agencies only because those ones have special packages for the National Assembly members. This same blackmailing tool was deployed by the Senate against STARTIMES/NTA and when it would seemed the National Assembly and the Chinese led management of STARTIMES have gone behind the doors to allegedly exchange monetary funds and bribes then the attacks against NTA/STARTIMES stopped and the accusations that STARTIMES was guilty of capital flight flew away through the windows of the National Assembly and it has been business as usual.”
“Our investigation showed that indeed there were established case of inducements that go on as soon as the National Assembly committees shouts like mad dogs in the media and the fearful Chief executives go for settlement of the matter which would be over and there would be silence of the graveyards and the media won’t ask the Senators about the status of those investigations.”
HURIWA recalled that the Senate Committee claimed that it’s disagreement with NDLEA stemmed from a memorandaum from the Auditor-General of the Federation in file number B/2009/OAGF/CAD/026/V dated 24th March, 2009, which stipulates that ‘All Accounting Officers and officers controlling expenditures are to ensure that all local procurement of stores and services costing above N200,000.00 shall be made only by No. award of contracts’. The Chairman/Chief Executive should recover the sum of N8,629,600.00, as this cannot be regarded as a legitimate charge against public funds.
The Senate accused NDLEA’S 2016 management thus: “The Director-General used green ink in giving approval for payments. This contravened Financial Regulation 3002 which restricts the use of green ink to the staff of the Auditor-General for the Federation. “The Chairman/Chief Executive should henceforth restrain the Director-General from this practice. All the issues raised were brought to the attention of the Chairman/Chief Executive, but no response was received from the NDLEA”.
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA has therefore called the National Assembly as a cesspool of corruption for seeking to deploy media platforms to demonise officials of government agencies especially those very few persons that for now appear to be accountable and transparent and try to humiliate them into submission to allegedly play their bribes seeking gambit.
HURIWA accused the Senate of similarly blackmailing the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA which was grilled by the Senate over a joint venture arrangement entered into between the agency and a Chinese media firm, Beijing Star Group, in 2008 known as NTA-Star TV Network.
“HURIWA followed the trajectory of this botched investigation which actually was a blackmailing tool by the politicians to compel financial inducements because the Senators then alleged that there were ‘staggering revelations’ of how officials of NTA allegedly connived with Joint Venture Partners, Star Times to defraud the country.The Senate said that a total of N200 billion was missing and carted out of the country which represents what would have been remitted as profits since 2008.
The Upper Chamber then called for a Special Investigation into the record books of NTA/Star Times Joint Venture asking the Management to return roughly N200billion generated since 2008.”
HURIWA recalled that the alleged bribe seeking law makers again stoked up trouble again when the Director-General, NTA, Yakubu Ibn Mohammed appeared before the Senator Olamilekan Adeola, All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos West led Senate Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning Stakeholders on the details of the 2021and 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) forwarded last month by President Muhammadu Buhari to present NTA’s projections.”
” HURIWA learnt that then the Senate also asked the NTA to go full Commercial, just as it has mandated the Budget Office to remove the Organisation from the Federal Government Budget for the government to stop paying salaries, carrying out capital and other expenditure, adding that with this, the NTA will not come to the National Assembly to defend budgets anymore. However, the Rights group accused the Senate of sale out because the NTA/STARTIMES still operate under sane templates that brought about the investigative hearing by the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly but nothing more is heard from the noisy neighbours of corrupt Directors General of federal agencies- National Assembly”.
The Rights group accused the National Assembly of habitual bribes seeking gambit just as it recalled that the Senate had then in year 2020 accused NTA/Star Times of coming up with incoherent financial records to show that it spent a total of N19 billion; leaving a shortfall of N8 billion in 2018 to justify earlier claims that the business had yielded nothing.
“According to the Chairman of the Senate Committee, Solomon Olamilekan said the reason NTA officials kept the account to the JV in dollar form was them to easily ship the profits outside of Nigeria in connivance with some Nigerian officials.Adeola said, “So that we can look at everything relating to this transactions because from the last record we are able to gather, )over N200bn was generated because only two years alone accounted for about N30bn.”“N13bn in 2018 and about N11bn in 2019, this is almost N30bn and another $90m. By the time you now take it from 2008, that will come to about N100bn that was missing. HURIWA wants the Senate to tell us if the missing cash are retrieved”.
HURIWA however stated that from an insider’s information, the Senate and the NTA/STARTIMES reached an ‘understanding’ and soon after, the media noise about the so called scam in NTA/STARTIMES died a natural death just as the Rights group asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission if it is still independent and incharge of their investigative activities to launch investigation on all the investigations carried out by the Senate and the Federal House of Representatives to ascertain the veracity of the allegations of bribes being collected by the legislative investigators who thereafter compromised the investigation.
HURIWA said the current media war against NDLEA is just a smokescreen to force the hands of Mohammed Buba Marwa to line the pockets of the legislators going by the widespread allegations of same pattern in the National Assembly over the past years. It urge the Chairman of NDLEA not to compromise his values for transparency and accountability.