By Hamilton Nwosa(Head, The New Diplomat’s Polling, Research & Data desk)
Federal Government intervention agency for oil-producing states, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is embroiled in a fresh scandal over huge fund purportedly spent as COVID-19 palliatives.
The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions was on Thursday informed about how N6.25billion was squandered by the axed Interim Management Committee ( IMC) led by Professor Daniel Pondei.
In a petition addressed to the Chairman of the said committee, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, Chairman of the agency’s COVID-19 Palliative Distribution Committee, Ambassador Sobomabo Jackrich, said no amount was spent as palliatives.
In his petition, Jackrich alleged that the money was embezzled as his committee was sidelined and the IMC hijacked the process because as the chairman, he demanded transparency in the process.
His petition read in part: “As Chairman of the COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee of the NDDC, I testify that N6.25billion 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 for transparency in the entire process.
“The then IMC conspired among themselves and distributed strange substances 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.”
Senator Akinyelure who therefore asked the NDDC to appear before his committee on February 22 to defend itself vowed that the Senate would get to the root of the alleged financial sleaze.
“This is the third time the leadership of the commission failed to honour invitation on the alleged N6.25billion COVID-19 Palliatives scam.”
He added that submission of the new management of the NDDC on the alleged would determine the fate of the disbanded Pondei-led IMC alleged to have squandered the money.