Mr Akpabio was quoted in the statement as saying that 16 field auditors were chosen to classify and check the over 12,000 projects across the nine Niger Delta states right away.
“It is President Muhammadu Buhari’s view that before we have a properly constituted board for the NDDC, we must first resolve inadequacies in the NDDC, which have existed since its inception,” he said.
“To this end, our opponents have done whatever they can to thwart the forensic audit. Some have speculated that the forensic audit has been cancelled,” he said.
Mr Akpabio blamed budgetary delays for the sluggish pace of the forensic audit, claiming that President Buhari intervened to save the situation.
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“The President is adamant that he cannot abandon the Niger Delta and the NDDC in the state in which he found them. President Buhari is financing the forensic audit from the Presidency’s budget as a sign of his dedication.
“So, I’m curious as to why some people are spreading rumours that the forensic audit has stalled – when the exercise is still ongoing,” he said.
The minister refuted allegations that the forensic audit was being used as a ruse to keep the NDDC Interim administration in place, maintaining that the security aspect of the audit was just as relevant as the forensic audit itself, given the region’s safety concerns.
Report on the forensic investigation
According to him, the field visit was an important next step, which would be followed by the forensic report’s production.
“The physical verification is a very serious exercise,” he said, noting that its results could lead to the prosecution of contractors who abandoned their contracts without finishing them.
The forensic audit of the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers, has been completed, according to Babayo Ardo, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary.
He stated that the second phase of the audit would begin with the inspection of over 12,000 project sites in the area that had been identified.
Interim NDDC Administrator Efiong Akwa also spoke, saying the commission had formed a committee to travel around the states to ensure that previous verification exercises were carried out transparently.
“The committee will be escorted across the sites by a formidable security escort to ensure their safety as well as the accuracy of the verification,” he assured.
Joshua Basiru, the Lead Forensic Auditor, expressed trust in the auditors’ ability to complete their mandate for the NDDC’s repositioning.
Despite the difficulties they faced during the first phase of the audit, he said his team made significant progress in accordance with the forensic terms of reference.
“As a result, I encourage field forensic auditors and their teams to provide attentive and meticulous professional service in order to complete the forensic audit successfully,” he said.