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How NDDC Finance Director illegally withdrew $40m (N5.6 billion) from Commission's Account

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Pastor Power Aginighan
Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Power Z. Aginighan unilaterally withdrew $40 million (N5.6 billion) from the commission's offshore account in Union Bank Nigeria PLC without authorization, investigations have revealed.

Aginighan, an ordained Pastor in The Apostolic Church Nigeria who was former Acting Managing Director before the inauguration of the present board led by Retired Air-Vice Marshal Larry Koinyan and the Chibuzor Ugwoha-led management in August 6, 2009, made the withdrawal on the day the board and management were inaugurated.

The withdrawal was made in two tranches of $20 million each on the same day of inauguration (August 6, 2009) on account number 014425-USD-CDCORR-13, IBAN GB52UBUK23579701442513 with neither evidence of authorization nor what the money was expended on. The stolen $40 Million (N5.6 Billion) is yet to be accounted for till date.

Following the development, Mr. Ugwoha had ordered the transfer of $20 million from the said offshore account in Union Bank to the offshore account of First Bank of Nigeria Plc both in United Kingdom.

Ugwoha had allegedly predicated the transfer on the intrigues over the union bank account between Aginighan and union bank officials and the unhealthy state of the Union bank which was further given verve by a recent release of banks with negative assets by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The movement of the funds from Union Bank to First Bank was said to have triggered sustained infighting allegedly sponsored by Mr. Aginighan pitching the board members against the management.

Sources told that Aginighan may have been benefitting from the lodgment of the $20 Million in Union Bank alongside fraudulent officials of the now ailing bank.

A petition forwarded by a group, Society for Good Governance (SGG) and signed by its Secretary, Okwudili Onyeke, had detailed Aginighan's infractions to include instigating chairman of the board, board members and state representatives to get involved in the award of contracts, recruitment of staff, all management responsibilities.

The group cited Section 2, sub-section 160201 (a) of the Public Service Rules of the Federal Government of Nigeria which states inter alia: “a board shall not be involved directly in the day-to-day management of a parastatal”.

It states further in sub-section 160202 that “accommodation shall not be provided to any part-time member on a permanent basis. No part-time member of the board shall be allowed to retain official vehicles for use on a permanent basis”.

According to the petitioners, the Delta State born Aginighan in contravention of the aforesaid rules prepared and equipped an office on the 8th floor of the Headquarters located at No 167, Aba Road, Port Harcourt for the board chairman and posted staff to his office and other board members to facilitate the their involvement in the day-to-day running of the commission. It alleged that beyond that the board members had also asked for accommodation and official vehicles for their aides.

The group is also asking the Federal Government to also review the 20-year stint of Mr Aginighan as a director in the commission dating back to OMPADEC in view of the prevailing civil service rules on tenure of directors.

It said his long stay in the commission and his use of inducement and bribery of board members has led to instability in the commission to the extent that board meetings are called without the managing director being in attendance, contracts are awarded without his consent and staff recruited in the same manner in the Ijaw dominated board and management. It further accused of him unilaterally recruiting 37 staff of the commission since August 9, 2009 without due process.

“Mr Aginighan had on several occasions instigated the meeting of the board without the presence of the managing director. He has continued to foment trouble in the commission with the hope that should the MD/CEO be suspended, he would become once again the Acting Managing Director and liquidate the organization”, it said. It further accused him of sponsoring militants who recently threatened to eliminate him and members of his family which was published by The group also accused Mr. Aginighan of championing an Ijaw agenda by constantly undermining the management.

Aginighan, Chairman of the board, Retired Air vice Marshall Larry Koinyan, executive director projects, three state representatives of Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Delta States are all Ijaw leaving Ugwoha, from Ogba as MD/CEO.