The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has debunked media reports that its director of Finance and Accounts, Mr. Eno Ubi Otu, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) “in relation to a case of alleged diversion of over N25 billion tax remittances.”
In a statement signed by the management of the commission, titled ‘NDDC Director Not Arrested’ it said some media platforms had reported that the director was arrested by the anti-graft agency in an attempt to uncover “how N25 billion was looted and how it was shared.”
The NDDC management said the reports were not a true reflection of what happened, stating that Mr Otu was only invited by the EFCC as part of its procedural investigation into an issue of non remitted VAT over a 15-year period, raised by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
It added that the EFCC invitation did not connote any form of criminal liability as portrayed in the said reports, and that the current NDDC director of finance and accounts was not a member of the Commission’s Management Committee during the period under investigation.
Part of the statement reads, “Niger Delta Development Commission Management wishes to categorically, and without equivocation, state that Mr. Eno Ubi Otu was only invited by the EFCC as part of a routine procedural investigation into non remittance of VAT over a 15-year period, raised by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), ostensibly orchestrated by persons seeking to be named in the forthcoming Board of the Commission.
“It is important to state that this period covers when the Director was not even a member of the Commission’s Management Committee.”
“EFCC has therefore only invited him to provide more clarity to their investigations. Mr. Eno Ubi Otu was not arrested,” the statement added.
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The commission said the report was a mere conjecture of the media reporters, adding that it was not attributed to the EFCC as a source of the information.
“Indeed, Management views with grave concern the report that there is an attempt to uncover ‘how N25 billion was looted and how it was shared.’
“It is also to be noted that this is mere conjecture by the reporters, since such information has not been attributed to any individual, neither did the EFCC’s spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, provide such information, nor did he confirm it. To imply therefore a criminal liability is most reckless and distasteful, even to the least standards of ethical journalism.”
It further stated that the commission has reached out to FIRS “to ascertain the actual inter-agency claims, to enable the office of the Accountant General of the Federation effect a direct debit transfer to FIRS, taking into consideration huge income due to NDDC from unpaid Ecological Funds and shortfalls on monthly statutory remittances, as provided for under section 14(2) of the NDDC Establishment Act.”
It also claimed that the said media report was sponsored by those it said are seeking for recognition in order to get appointment in the interim management of NDDC.
“The alleged issue of diversion of VAT by our Finance Director, as reported by the media is most unfortunate. The distorted and distractive news item is viewed in line with a contrived media campaign orchestrated by some unproductive persons who are bent on getting appointed into another interim management in NDDC. The ulterior motives of these individuals are already known; which is to grab an opportunity from the government and use same as ATM for the upcoming 2023 general elections! Nothing about service or value addition.”
The commission urged members of the public to disregard the report which it said was “twisted.”