N6.25bn COVID-19 palliative: Senate to investigate NDDC, Niger Delta governors

The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, has vowed to get into the root of alleged misappropriation of N6.25bn budgeted for Covid-19 palliative in 2020 by the interim management of the
the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The Committee Chairman, Senator Patrick Akinyelure said it would seek the support of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to use his good offices to ensure the arrest of Professor Daniel Pondei led interim management of the federal government intervention agency.

Senator Akinyelure said his Committee was disappointed that the Professor Pondei team have failed to appear before it to defend the petition against it before the Committee.

Chairman of the agency’s COVID-19 Palliative Distribution Committee, Ambassador Sobomabo Jackrich in a petition to the Senate Committee claimed that he was not taken into confidence in the disbursement of the fund budgeted for COVID-19 Palliatives.

His petition read in part: “As the Chairman of the COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee of the NDDC, I testify that N6.25bn approved by Mr President for palliatives for the entire Niger Delta Region through the NDDC, cannot be accounted for and is allegedly embezzled by the then Prof Daniel Pondei – led IMC.

“My committee was totally sidelined and the IMC hijacked the process because of their secret plots just because I, as the Chairman, demanded transparency in the entire process.

“The then IMC conspired among themselves and distributed strange substance in the name of Palliatives in form of spoilt food items to a few communities in the region.

“To cover up for the fraud, they tried without success to bribe me with few bags of rice and beans just to induce me to play along with them.”

At the Committee sitting on Monday, neither Professor Pondei nor any member of his team was at the National Assembly to explain their role.

Senator Akinyelure said his Committee has been left with no choice but to order a warrant of arrest on the current management of the agency to produce Pondei and his team.

“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.”

“This is the third time the leadership of the commission failed to honour invitation on the alleged N6.25bn COVID-19 Palliatives scam.

“Unfortunately for them, as a committee of the Senate, we shall thoroughly investigate it whether they like it or not, since petition on the fraud even came from a ranking officer from the commission.

“Even as a Senator from one of the affected states, I along with 26 others, did not see any palliatives distributed by NDDC last year.

“Since government is a continuum, the new management of the commission, must appear before the Committee unfailingly on the 22nd of this month.”

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