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Group alleges NDDC’s committee embezzled N80bn, not N40bn



Group alleges NDDC's committee embezzled N80bn, not N40bn

An advocacy group,The Act for Positive Transformation Initiative, ACT, has alleged that it was N80billion and not N40billion, has so far been misappropriated by the
Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC within the last five months.

In a petition to the leadership of the National Assembly in persons of the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the group called for expeditious action on the planned probe of the alleged reckless spending by the IMC.

Both chambers of the National Assembly had through separate resolutions taken in April this year, set up ad-hoc committee to investigate the alleged misappropriation of N40billion by the IMC.

The action however set the federal legislatures against the IMC officials who accused both chambers of witch hunting while counter accusations from both sides persisted for some times.

But the group in its petition titled: “Save the Niger Delta Development Commission Now” and dated 30th June, 2020, alleged that verifiable available records at its disposal , indicate that money squandered by interim management team of NDDC between January and May this year, is N80billion as against N40billion the Senate passed resolution on in April this year.

ACT in the petition signed by its Head, Directorate of Research, Strategy and Programmes, Kolawole Johnson, made breakdown of the allegedly squandered N80billion and consequently urged the National Assembly to stop NDDC under its present leadership from further financial transaction aside monthly salary payments to workers.

The petition reads in part: “That the National Assembly directs the Commission to stop all forms of procurements.

“That the National Assembly directs the commission and relevant agencies to stop all forms of payments from the commission’s account.

“That a proper account must be given for the over N80billion Naira squandered by the commission between January and May, 2020.

“That the commission should be allowed to pay salaries only.

“That the National Assembly directs the commission to stop payments of all forms of allowances as this has been grossly abused.”

Kolawole on behalf of the group alleged further in the two page petition that the IMC members of the NDDC pay themselves, monthly, several illegal allowances running into hundreds of millions which are also extended to some staff of the commission.

Example of such special payments made through alleged fraudulent imprest according to him, was paid to Mr. Charles Odili, a Director in the commission, on the 30th of April, 2020 at about 12:56pm in the sum of N10 million as captured in his UBA private account.

The group added that same Odili raised memos for over over N1.2billion payments for imaginary media work within four weeks.

“Members of the Interim Management Committee also use bank accounts of staff of the commission for such illegal payments.

“The MD of the commission, Prof. Pondei routes one of his illegal monthly allowances N51.6million as Imprest on Personal Security and Project Monitoring, through the bank account of a staffer named Oweife Justina with employee ID no. 94 while Dr. Cairo Ojugboh, who collects N18million for same purpose, uses Eno Ukpe bank account, a staffer with employee ID no. 509, for his payments.

“They also receive N10million naira monthly for hosting visitors. These payments are not connected to the money already provided in the budget for project monitoring, which has been overdrawn by over N180million in the last few months.

“That the National Assembly strives to save the commission from the monster of corruption through the ongoing probe. Among numerous agitations, our office is, in recent times, inundated with cries from students abroad under the commission’s scholarship who are currently stranded in different countries.

“While these students are facing untold hardship, the present Interim Management Committee members are busy paying themselves money meant for the hapless students.

“Prof. Pondei in particular, paid himself and received foreign scholarship payments into his private UBA account no. 1002290165 on the 17th of April at about 16:50gmt.

” Same for Dr. Cairo Ojugboh, who also received millions into his private account no 1002428409 around 16:24GMT being payment for 2020 Post graduate scholarship for himself. Several staff, especially those who had allegedly conspired with the present management to squander the commission’s fund , also received millions into their private accounts for same 2020 post graduate scholarship they never attended even during lockdown.

“We wish to reiterate our call for a live telecast of the public hearing,” ACT further alleged.

The advocacy group added that it could be recalled that the 2019 budget of the NDDC expired on May 31, 2020 and that the commission is yet to submit the 2019 budget performance to enable the parliament begin legislative work on the 2020 budget submitted to the National Assembly.

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Group alleges NDDC's committee embezzled N80bn, not N40bn

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