Senators seek arrest of NDDC chiefs over N6.2b palliatives diversion

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The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on Monday resolved to recommend the arrest of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Interim Management Committee (IMC) members.

It followed their alleged refusal to answer to allegations that they misappropriated N6.2billion COVID-19 palliatives.

The Senate committee told reporters that it would ask the Senate leadership to direct the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, through the executive to produce members of the NDDC management before it on March 9, 2021.

The money was approved last year by President Muhammadu Buhari to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Niger Delta region.

The money was reportedly released to the former Interim Management Committee of NDDC headed by Prof. Keme Pondei, with Effiong Akwa, Caroline Naagbo and Cairo Ojougbo as members.

Akwa was later appointed a Sole Administrator of the commission by Buhari following the dissolution of the IMC.

A former agitator, Sobomabo Jackrich, who was appointed by the President to chair the distribution of the palliatives, later raised the alarm in a petition he sent to the Senate that the NDDC management diverted and misappropriated the N6.2bn.

But the Senate Committee’s efforts to crack the case and make recommendations were being frustrated by the members of the NDDC management, who consistently refused to appear before the Committee and make a presentation.

The panel, last month, asked them to appear before it yesterday to explain how they allegedly spent N6.25bn on COVID-19 palliatives last year.

But they shunned the panel’s sitting – the fifth time in a row – drawing the ire of the Ayo Akinyelure-led panel.

Akinyelure said: “This is the fifth time our committee will summon the former Interim Management Committee of the NDDC to appear before us but they have always ignored our summons.

“We hereby resolve to request a warrant of arrest to be issued on the Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Effiong Akwa, to produce Pondei and his team.”

Also yesterday, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide urged the Federal Government and the NDDC to immediately publish the report of the commission’s forensic audit.

The IYC in a statement signed by its President, Deacon Timothy Igbifa, recalled that in February 2020, the federal government initiated a forensic investigation of the commission’s financial activities from 2001 to 2019 to sanitise and optimise NDDC operations.

“But it has been one year that the investigations started. It is time to publish the report of this investigation. Every audit has a lifespan and we think that one year is more than enough to complete the audit of NDDC and publish the report”, he said.

He said the IYC and other stakeholders would no longer allow the ongoing leadership confusion in NDDC with “flagrant abuse” of the Act establishing the commission to continue, in the name of a forensic audit.

Similarly, the Global Forum for Accountability and Transparency, charged the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to redeem its image by ensuring that the ongoing probe of the NDDC Sole Administrator, Effiong Akwa, is not compromised.

The CCB is investigating the NDDC Administrator for failing to comply with the mandatory declaration of assets by public officers.

The group in a statement signed by the Lead Executive Director, Joseph Ambakederimo, passed vote-of-no confidence in the Committee investigating the NDDC boss.

It demanded the removal of the Chairman of the Committee, Johnson Agbonayima, arguing that he was not fit to preside over the Committee.

“Already we see signs that nothing good will come out of the Agbonayima committee; therefore we demand that he be removed as chairman,” the statement said.

(News credit: thenationonlineng.net)

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