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Ajaokuta probe: Urhobo group warns against protecting culprits



Urhobo Progressive and Development Union (UPDU), a South-South group, has condemned the petition to the Senate by some traditional rulers in Kogi seeking to stop the probe of Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASCL) bordering on allegation of corruption.

The leader of the group, Ogheneruno Oghenetega, in a statement, on Monday, described the petition as despicable.

Oghenetega said that just as every part of the country was concerned about the activities of oil companies in the Niger Delta, the probe of Ajaokuta Steel company was of paramount interest to every Nigerian.

He recalled that Sen. Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan (PDP/Kogi Central), recently moved a motion urging the Senate to investigate alleged corruption and inefficiency at ASC and National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe.

He quoted the lawmaker as seeking an investigation into the 496 million dollars allegedly paid to a supposed handler of the moribund outfit, by the Federal Government in September 2022, reportedly to ward off contractual disputes.

According to him, the petition to stop the probe was jointly signed by five traditional rulers from the Kogi Central Senatorial District.

He said the chiefs accused the lawmaker of acting in isolation and without the input of critical stakeholders in the senatorial district.

“They also claimed that the Senator’s motion was an “unwarranted public outcry”.

“It is shameful that the traditional rulers in Kogi Central are trying to protect corruption.

“This is not acceptable here, and the Northern region should take a cue from the South-South region that always cooperates with the National Assembly members, EFCC, ICPC, and anti-corruption bodies on any assignments for national interest,” he said.

The group also advised the traditional rulers not to protect corrupt aristocrats in their midst, adding that the job of rebuilding Nigeria required the contribution of all sectors of the economy.

According to him. Ajaokuta Steel Company was built with the money from oil in the Niger-Delta, hence knowing what happened there and what is happening there means a lot to Niger Deltans and Nigerians at large.

Sumaila Ogbaje

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