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Nsima Ekere, a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), was on Wednesday arrested by agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged diversion of funds to the tune of N47 billion through registered contractors of the agency.
Ekere was said to have turned himself in at the agency’s office in Lagos State on Wednesday and is reportedly undergoing investigation over allegations
Days before the latest development, Ekere was one of the party stakeholders who received Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in Akwa Ibom state, when the latter visited Akwa Ibom APC delegates on May 13 to seek their support on his presidential bid.
Ekere was also with Osinbajo when the vice-president visited Cross River State to seek the support of APC delegates on his presidential ambition.
The circumstances leading to the former NDDC MD’s invitation by the commission was said to be linked to him allegedly benefitting from contract funds from projects dating back to 2017.
Ekere was the MD of the NDDC between 2017 and 2018.
In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered a forensic audit of the NDDC’s operations from 2001 to 2019.
While receiving the audit report, Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, said the Federal Government was concerned about the way funds had been spent on the region, adding that “approximately N6 trillion” was given to the commission within the period under review.
However, it is not yet clear if Ekere’s case with the EFCC is linked to the NDDC audit.
The former NDDC MD was the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom state in the 2019 elections, but lost to Emmanuel Udom of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In the build-up to the 2019 elections, Ekere also served as a member of the presidential campaign council for the APC.
The development came hours after Patricia Etteh, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, was detained by the anti-graft agency over allegations involving N130 million fraud.
Hours before Etteh was taken into the custody of the EFCC, the commission had arrested Ahmed Idris, accountant-general of the federation, over alleged N80 billion fraud.