By: Okosun Dennis
The feud between the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio and the former Managing Director, Interim Management Committee of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr Joi Nunieh got messier on Monday as the former MD accused Akpabio of sexually harassing her and she slapped him.
Responding to questions on Arise Television in the programme “Morning Show”, Dr Nunieh explained that instead of Akpabio having meetings with her in her office while she held sway at NDDC, he was always fond of organising meetings at obscure places; in hotels where they could be together.
Akpabio, who also had an interview on ARISE TV earlier last week lambasted Nunieh of insurbodination and other official malfeasances. Besides, he accused the former MD who was relieved of her duty about six months ago of sundry misconduct and her failed marriages to four husbands.
Dr Nunieh in her response accused Akpabio of using cronies, a girlfriend to siphon the commission. One of such incident was using his girlfriend to supply diesel to the Commission and attempt to inject projects into the commission’s budget unknown to her as the Managing Director of NDDC.
Besides, why defending some of the decisions she took before she left office, she further alleged that Akpabio apart from asking her to swear to a fetish oath was always asking her to bring huge amount of money from the Commission’s coffers, which she always turned down.
In her words, “If he (Akpabio) wants to have meetings with me, it’s either in Apo or Meridian hotel. Those are his meeting places. When the harassment became too much, I slapped him.”
One of the anchors of the programme, Dr Ruben Abati’s curiosity to know if there was actually a rape or sexual harassment led to the following exchange.
Abati: Are you accusing Senator Akpabio of attempted rape? Is that the point you are making or sexual harassment? Or you are accusing expressly of sexual harassment?
Dr Nunieh: Yes, I am accusing him of sexual harassment. I want to say that most Nigerian women face alot of these pressures and that is why you see that Akpabio is more interested in my love life. Why was he jealous I was married four times? Did he wants to be my 5th or 7th husband?
“I didn’t marry four times and I don’t know where he got that. It is because of the slap that Akpabio told the world that I am very temperamental. Do you know why Akpabio told the world that I am temperamental was because of that incident.
“Akpabio’s girlfriend supplies the diesel at NDDC. I looked at the diesel situation and told him why not give it to the young Niger Delta boys. A lot was spent on diesel. How will I tell the President I came for forensic audit and end up committing the same offence I was sent to address? I will not do it.”
To reduce the purchase of diesel and minimise cost, she requested that the electricity to the NDDC be connected but they refused. “When I wanted us to connect the light, they refused to do it and they want us to continue buying diesel.
“His girlfriend had the audacity to go to the National Assembly to meet the clerk of the house/Committee to inject some projects. She is not a staff of NDDC and she told the clerk that Minister Akpabio asked her to put those projects in the budget I had submitted and was unknown to me.
“They called me that there was a lady that wants to add something to my budget. I requested for her number and called her and introduced myself. After she explained, I told her to get out of that place or would arrest her with the police and she told me that the Minister said I should put it.
“Within two to three minutes later, Akpabio called me screaming and shouting that why did I talk to the lady like that adding that the President has given him all the powers of control,” Dr Nunieh reiterated.
On how the Minister of the Niger Delta wanted to use the NDDC as a conduit pipe to siphon money for his political ambition, Dr Nunieh explained that Akpabio wrote me to add some project on Refugee Commission in the budget of NDDC. Refugee Commission is another Federal Government commission and how do you want me to put it in NDDC budget when we have so many projects in Niger Delta?
“Akpabio would come that he wants $1million. How do I bring $1million? He would come during Christmas that I want N1billion for everybody in the state. How do I write that? Everybody in the Niger Delta would bear me witness. We didn’t give a Kobo to any youth during Christmas.”
The former NDDC MD, who is alao a lawyer by profession made other damning allegations against the former Governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio, who became a senator and was ousted by election tribunal before being appointed a Minister, saying that their relationships got so bad that Akpabio said the only way he could trust her again was to swore to voodoo (fetish oath).
“He said the only way he could trust me again was swear to juju. When I asked him sir, why are we having these problems, he said is juju. I told you to change the furniture in the office. I told him I can’t change them as they were still new and beautiful. Moreover, I am only here for six months. I don’t believe in juju and it was difficult for me to start telling people what Akpabio said. I am a lawyer and there must be some confidentialities.
“When we went for reconciliation meeting in Abuja, it is Akpabio that raised the issue and said gentlemen, she must take the oath. That is why I praised Sheriki Abbah. He told the Minister that Dr Nunieh will not take the oath.
On some missing files, Nunieh reiterated that Akpabio collected those files of contracts when he was a Governor and a senator, adding that the week before he was made a Minister, Akpabio ensured he got 30 contracts for water hycinth.
She maintained that against claims that he was carrying out forensic audit of the Commission, Nunieh labelled such audit as phantom and fraud, adding that the fund to carry out the forensic audit has not been approved.
Asked what she wanted hence the outburst, Dr Nunieh intoned: “I don’t want to go back to NDDC. What I expect is that things should be done properly. I was involved in Niger Delta struggle and want to ensure Niger Delta is truly developed.
“I raised these issues because Akpabio has touched my dignity and started talking about four husbands and all that. I needed to stop him. I am not a child. Many women are chased everyday, nobody hears about it. I handled the situation very well hence I slapped him. I wasn’t helpless,” she added.
Dr Joi Nunieh was appointed by President Buhari in October 2019 and was relieved in February in 2020 and replaced with Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, a Professor of Medicine at the Niger Delta University, and former Provost, College of Health Sciences of the institution.