Drama As NDDC MD, Pondei, ‘Slumps’ During Reps Committee Interrogation

Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Daniel Pondei, appeared to faint 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.

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.