The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) on Friday announced its plan to probe an allegation that the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, bribed officials of the bureau with N100million.
The bureau was reacting to a media allegation that Mr Akpabio bribed CCB officials to assist the sole administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Akwa Effiong, to fill in and backdate his assets declaration forms from 2012 till date.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a Federal Commissioner of the CCB, Ehiozuwa Agbonayunma, at a press conference in Abuja on Friday, announced the bureau’s plan to investigate the allegation.
The bureau had said in a statement on February 10 that it held “an emergency meeting of the Bureau Board” on the issue on February 9 where it took the decision that “an investigation be commissioned.”
The statement said the ordered investigation was “with a view to establishing the veracity of the allegation against the officials of the CCB and other public officers (being its subject) along the line.”
Addressing journalists on Friday, Mr Agbonayunma, who chairs the sub-committee set up by CCB to investigate the matter, described the allegation as “grievous”, adding that his team had got “a mandate” of the bureau to probe the allegation against some officials of the bureau.
He said, “This is where I appeal to all media organisations, civil society groups, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to join the CCB in the fight against corruption as the CCB cannot achieve it alone.
“Today, we have been given a mandate by the CCB to investigate the allegation against some officials of the bureau we saw on the social media.”
Mr Agbonayunma, who maintained that his committee “is not to witch-hunt anyone,” said the minister had given his side of the story on being invited for questioning.
The official, who said every party to the case was still considered innocent, added that his committee would dig up the facts concerning the case.
He said, “We invited the minister involved in the matter, and in his wisdom, he came and gave us his own side of the story.
“All the accused parties remain innocent until investigation is over. We have equally done some in-house investigations and we shall dig out the facts of the matter.
“We are not holding anyone to ransom neither are we saying anyone has committed a crime.
“For now, it remains an allegation because at the moment, no one has proved to us that the minister gave money to some staff of the bureau.”
Mr Agbonayunma assured Nigerians that the committee would get to the bottom of the matter even as he maintained that the “CCB is not a toothless bull dog.”
‘Join us to fight corruption’
Mr Agbonayunma also appealed to Nigerians to join hands against corruption which he said “has eaten us deeply and requires total eradication.”
He said, “CCB is here to stay under the leadership of Prof. Mohammed Isa, who is the chairman and other nine members that make up the bureau.
“We are here to join hands with President Muhammadu Buhari, who had the wisdom to nominate us. The fight against corruption is going to include every Nigerian.
“We call on all Nigerians to join hands in the fight against corruption. Don’t forget that when you fight corruption, it fights back at you.”
Serial bribery allegations
The NDDC, under Mr Akpabio’s supervision as the Minister of Niger Delta, has been at the centre of major corruption allegations.
Mr Akpabio, who is believed to have backed Mr Effiong to become the sole administrator of NDDC, had similarly been accused of bribing the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to ensure the appointment sail through.
But Mr Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom and former Senate Minority Leader, has denied the bribery allegations.
Despite repeated corruption scandals rocking the NDDC, President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to constitute a substantive board for the commission as provided by its enabling law.