NDDC MD,Pondei Faints During Reps Committee Grilling,Nigerians React

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Edozie Udeojo,Abuja

Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Daniel Pondei, suffered seizure as the House of Representatives committee on NDDC grilled him on Monday.

The committee is in its fourth day of public hearing as it investigates alleged financial misappropriation at the agency.

Pondei slumped while being grilled by the committee led by Thomas Ereyitomi.

It would be recalled that Pondei last week staged a walkout on the committee, stating that Mr. Ojo is a man of interest in the ongoing investigation.

The committee again on Friday summoned both Prof. Pondei and Sen. Godswill Akpabio, the minister for Niger Delta Affairs, following revelations by the former Acting Managing Director of the Commission, Joy Nunieh.

The controversy had seen strong allegations of corruption traded between the Minister and the former MD of the NDDC, Joi Nunei, who appeared before the lawmakers via Zoom on Friday.

Pondei had been grilled for over an hour and when he slowly slumped over his desk, appearing too faint.

Once he was spotted, several people present at the hearing rushed to his aid, propping him up and attempting to stabilise him, with the proceedings halted.

He then appeared to be in a seizure with a man, holding open his mouth as others held him upright. After he appeared to regain and lose composure intermittently, he was moved out of the session.

The development led to a brief discussion about the next step to take. A move to have the session adjourned was shouted before the Deputy Chairman of the Committee called for a 30-minute recess.

Lawmakers investigating corruption allegations in the NDDC had on Friday summoned Pondei and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to appear before them today (Monday) as the country sought to understand how budgetary allocations to the agency had been spent.

This is not the first time an appearance by the NDDC MD before the lawmakers will come to a halt under dramatic circumstances.

The NDDC boss had walked out on the lawmakers on Thursday, last week, after accusing the Chairman of the Committee, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, of being an interested party in the investigation.

He said as long as Tunji-Ojo presided over the investigation, the Commission would not get a fair hearing. He then refused to make presentations before the committee and walked out.

Angered by the move, the lawmakers resolved to issue a warrant of arrest compelling Professor Pondei to appear before the lawmakers and make a proper submission.

The lawmakers, however, decided to summon him again, and at the start of his appearance, he apologised for his action.

Although he said he “regretted” the incident which happened last week, before he was questioned by the lawmakers, the Chairman of the Committee recused himself from the session, leaving Hon. Thomas Ereyi-Tobi, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee to preside.

Nigerians reacts

Reacting, Nigerians on social media queried why government officials under probe for corruption mostly faint when grilled.

Others prayed for Pondei’s quick recovery to allow for continuation of the probe.

Here are some comments

@Tosinolugbebga, “When they were embezzling billions on Naira meant for the development of Niger Delta, they didn’t slump.Now they are asking them to provide answers to why they stole the money, they are faking slumping/fainting. 1.3 billion stolen in the name of palliative #NDDCProbe.”

@Onyebuchind, “Fainting on National TV and coming in stretchers to court to avoid prosecution. This thing has to stop in Nigeria.

@Mapur_ebenezer, “When stealing the NDDC money, the Ag MD of NDDC did not slump ooo, but suddenly slumped during probe; bunch of liars.

@_starbiola, “The ACTING MD OF NDDC reminds me of Fayose whose neck got broken by tear gas. Omo, this country is a pure cruise #NDDCProbe.”

@Godfirsttime, “See drama. You don still money finish come de claim fainting… Billions of Naira, These men just de take us play for this country, I swear. Shame on you people. #NDDCProbe.”

@boborimik, “It’s only those that wait on the Lord that will walk and not faint not when you embezzle money meant for NDDC and well meaning Nigerians. You will faint.”

@ty4real11, “Naija no go kill person. I was just watching House of Reps questioning NDDC boss over allegations of fraud, this man could not defend himself. He saw that the questions were too much; na so this man just collapsed on Live broadcast.”

@skophiden, “God should please save NDDC Acting MD, Prof. Daniel Pondei, to continue proper questioning for misappropriating billions of naira. Because those figures are huge.”

@man_like_wike, “Just “Acting MD” for 5 months and you’ve made it a Professional Acting Career already.This man is a Pro!!! #NDDCProbe.”

@particular6, “NDDC MD, Mr Pondei slumps during interrogations based on financial mismanagement!!! Revive him and bring him back . There’ll be no peace for corrupt officials. #NDDCProbe.”

@Nwafresh, “This is the question that resulted to that Oscar award-winning scene. “The scholarship money for students abroad for 2019 is yet to be paid, and we’re in July 2020. Since the budget for 2019 has expired, where is he going to get the money to pay those students”? #NDDCProbe.”

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