Joi Nunieh otherwise known as the “Esther of Ogoniland” may be dragged before a Court for comments considered defamatory by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godwin Akpabio.
The Minister’s decision to seek legal redress is coming even as he  dispels allegations of gross misdemeanor levied against him by the former Acting Managing Director.
According to a statement issued by the Minister’s SA on Media, Anietie, “The Honourable Minister has taken steps to instruct his lawyers to seek necessary redress in a Court of competent Jurisdiction on his behalf over the defamatory statements made by Ms. Nunieh.”
The statement denied Akpabio’s alleged involvement in contract racketeering, oil pipeline bombing and alleged plot to deal with a northern element currently serving within the NDDC.
It described the remarks made by the former Ag. Managing Director of the NDDC as false.
“On the allegations of the Honourable Minister’s involvement in contract racketeering, bombing of oil pipelines, corruption/diversion of funds, the Honourable Minister has stated several times and at various fora that since his assumption of office, he has only awarded three contracts till date- the appointment of the lead forensic auditors which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC); the emergency procurement contract for COVID-19 intervention in the Niger Delta Area which due to its urgency had his interim approval and Presidential approval in line with the Bureau of Public Procurement Act and the award of Vehicles procurement duly approved by the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Federal Executive Council but yet to be consummated. It is noteworthy, that all these contracts went through due processes.
“On her allegation that the Honourable Minister directed her to change the Dollars in the NDDC’s Account; for the records, it should be noted that NDDC’s Account is domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria. Every inflow and outflow is known and traceable. NDDC gets its revenue in Dollars which is paid directly to its Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Dollar is then converted to Naira by the CBN and paid into the NDDC Naira Account still domiciled with the CBN upon a written application from the NDDC. It is therefore impossible for any sum of money belonging to the NDDC with the CBN including the several figures bandied around as missing to be missing.
The statement said the former Senator was being harassed by a cabal that is intent on seeing that the truth about what is happening at the NDDC does not see the light of day.
“Investigation of the NDDC is heating up and the truth is about to be unveiled for all to see? The critical question is who is afraid of the Forensic Audit at the NDDC? Who is Afraid of the Truth?
“There is no doubt that Ms. Nunieh’s attacks are both personal and sponsored. Those afraid of the truth, and who wish to bury it from seeing the light of the day, are strenuously behind Ms. Nunieh’s vicious campaign of calumny. ”
The statement further stated, “The Honourable Minister has a mandate from Mr. President, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to unearth alleged looting and financial misappropriation that had gone on at the NDDC since its inception in 2001. He is committed to that mandate through the forensic audit of the NDDC and will not be deterred or distracted from that goal. The aim of this campaign of calumny is simple, get Senator Akpabio out, kill the forensic audit, and continue business as usual at the NDDC.
“It is important to state, that unlike in the past where the NDDC had over three hundred (300) bank accounts in different commercial banks, that practice had since changed under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, which gave full effect to the application of the Treasury Single Account and the NDDC now has its accounts with the CBN. The Honourable Minister does not give verbal instructions to anybody, all instructions are in writing and in response to a request from the Commission.”