By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
A pressure group, Act for Positive Transformation Initiative (ACT) has petitioned the leadership of the National Assembly, including the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, for expeditious action on the planned probe exercise over the alleged financial impropriety in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
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 the Interim Management Team of NDDC between January and May this year is N80 billion 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, gave the 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 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.
He gave example of such special payments made through alleged fraudulent imprest to include the payment allegedly made to one 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 N1.2billion naira payments for imaginary media work within four weeks.
“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 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 helpless students.”