By Osahon Osahon
Itsekiri leaders in Delta State on Sunday demanded for a thorough investigation into the financial scandal rocking the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The leaders spoke under the apex socio-cultural umbrella body of Itsekiri ethnic nationality, Itsekiri Leaders of Thought (ILOT), stressing that Itsekiri people are in full support of the ongoing probe by the National Assembly to unearth the wastage in the commission.
ILOT also frowned at the action of the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, when he walked out on the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives probing the alleged multi billion naira scandal by the IMC.
In a statement signed by its Secretary, Sir Amorighoye Mene, the Itsekiri people are demanding answers from the Prof. Pondie-led IMC board on how it spent the commission’s funds running into several billions of naira within few months without any tangible thing to show.
It also questioned the constitutional powers of the IMC in awarding contracts and disbursing funds which amounts to N1.5 billion as palliatives for its members, management and staff of the interventionist agency.
It urged the National Assembly among other things to thoroughly probe N81 billion expenditure by the commission within the past five months, and ensure that anyone dou d culpable is arrested and prosecuted.
The statement among others is demanding answers as to, “where did the acting MD derive the powers and authority to award contracts above his threshold without recourse to the tenders Board?
“Also with due respect to the above statutory requirements, where did the acting MD have powers and authority to distribute N1.5 billion as Covid 19 palliative to IMC members ,management and Staff of NDDC and from which Budget?
“Did the Emergency procurement under the public procurement act,particularly section 43 provide for all the above contracts?
“Without recourse to the provisions of the public service rules on appointments, promotions and dismissal/termination with due regard to the fact that the IMC is not a substantive Board, where did the acting MD derive the power and authority to promote staff without examinations, make appointments and dismissal or termination of staff.”
The statement also seeks explanation on comments by the executive director on projects, Dr. Cairo Ojuogboh, on national television, claiming that certain funds paid into his accounts during the COVID-19 lockdown, were for travels to visit students on NDDC scholarship programme abroad.
“September is not time for graduation, but resumption for fall admission. While convocation is normally between April and June which is the lockdown period. The NDDC scholars are scattered in various universities all over the world, so which university’s convocation did they plan to attend?
“How can they plan to attend the convocation of students that the NDDC has not disbursed their school fees? Students who are stranded as a result of the negligence of the NDDC? Now that they did not travel have they refunded the said amount?
“The IMC was put in place by the President to carry out a comprehensive forensic audit of the NDDC. It has been over 6 months since then, we want to know, without the 2020 NDDC budget appropriations duly signed to law can the IMC procure a lead consultant?
“Can the lead consultant and the nine forensic audit firms be selected without the procurement Act 2007 of the Bureau of Public Procurement and without due regard for transparency and accountability in the selection process?
“Have the project files collected from the NDDC by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, which was one of the issues before the Special Adviser to the President on Domestic Matters for resolution between Dr Nunieh, ex-MD of NDDC and Senator Akpabio, been returned to the NDDC so that they can be audited also?”, the a statement further asked.