Nigeria: NDDC's Absence Stalls Probe of N6.2bn Covid-19 Fund Diversion, N139bn Fraud - Rep

22 October 2020

The House of Representatives has said the probe of the alleged diversion of N6.2bn meant for COVID-19 palliatives under the Niger Delta Development Commission during the pandemic, was stalled due to the NDDC's absence at the hearing on Wednesday.

PREMIUM TIMES first reported how the Chairman of the Palliative Distribution Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Sobomabo Jackrich, had accused the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of misappropriating and diverting N6.2 billion meant for palliatives among the commission's nine-member states.

The N6.2bn palliative scam is apart from the N1.21bn used to "take care" of the NDDC staffers during the pandemic, PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported in August.

The allegation is one of the many rocking the commission, drawing the attention of the lawmakers and Nigerians as a whole.

Set up in 2000 by the Obasanjo administration to fast-track development in the troubled Niger Delta region, the NDDC has been plagued with years of management's ineptitude and corruption that have left people in the region to wallow in poverty.

Last year, President Muhammad Buhari approved a forensic audit of the commission.

A year later, the Lower Chamber is taking a swipe at the commission's palliative scam and the audit, investigating the mismanagement of N139.317bn between 2013 and 2018, alleged by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.

But on Wednesday when the investigative hearing by the House Committee on Public Accounts was to begin, no official of NDDC was present.

The House Committee had put up a notice to the commission to probe the following issues:

"Special periodic checks on the activities and programmes of Niger Delta Development Commission for the period 1st January 2013 to 30th June 2018.

"Hearing on Auditor-General's comments on the audited accounts of Niger Delta Development Commission for the years ended 31st December, 2017 and 2018.

"Public hearing on the Auditor-General of the Federation's special period checks on the activities and programmes of Niger Delta Development Commission for the period 2008 -2012.

"Re-demand for probe/investigation over alleged misappropriation and diversion of N6.2bn NDDC palliatives money and call for suspension of Interim Management Committee from office for free and fair investigation."

Meanwhile, the committee also said Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) was to appear to give reports on its financial activities and the special audit monitoring and evaluation of capital projects and programmes by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company for the period covering June 2017 to June 2018.

But NBET and others failed to appear.

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