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NDDC: Group alledges fresh N80 billion scam

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Against the backdrop of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs and the NDDC over alleged financial impropriety to the tune of N40 billion, a group known as “The Act for Positive Transformation”, has raised a fresh allegation, saying that, the amount to be investigated by the parliament is N80 billion.

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In a petition which was addressed to the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, and Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and obtained by CAPITAL POST on Thursday in Abuja, the advocacy group urged the upper and lower house to be deepened in the probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

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In the petition titled: “Save the Niger Delta Development Commission Now ” and dated 30th June, 2020, the group 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. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

They submitted that the investigation panel should envisage the sum of N80 billion and not N40 billion as earlier indicated, adding that the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC should be stopped from further spending until the investigation covering five months was completed.

The petition insisted that the sum of N80 billion was spent within five months outside the salaries of staff, noting that the lawmakers should expedite action in the probe of NDDC.

The petition which was signed by the group’s Head , Directorate of Research , Strategy and Programmes, Kolawole Johnson, maintained that Nigerians were waiting for the lawmakers’ probe of activities of the agency.

“Part of the petition reads: “That the National Assembly directs the Commission to stop all forms of procurements and payment from the Commission’s account.

“That a proper account must be given for the over N80 billion squandered by the commission between January and May, 2020.

The group maintained that it was ready to attend the Committee’s investigate hearing with evidences available to them, adding that the Committee should organise live telecast of the hearing.

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

“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 Advocacy group alleged further in the two page petition that the Interim Management Committee 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.

Same Charles Odili the group alleged further , raised memos for over over N1.2 billion payments for imaginary media work within four weeks.

They said: “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 N51.6 million as imprest on Personal Security and Project Monitoring, through the bank account of a staffer named Oweife Justina with employee I.D no 94 while Dr Cairo Ojugboh , who collects N18million Naira for same purpose, uses Eno Ukpe Bank account, a staffer with employee ID no 509, for his payments.

“They also receive N10 million 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 N180m 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.

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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