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Monday, July 27, 2020

NDDC: Reps summon Pondei, Nunieh, Alaibe, others

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

In what seems to be a fresh probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission, the House of Representatives has summoned all serving and former heads of the commission to account for billions of naira allegedly unaccounted for.

The House Committee on Public Accounts issued the summons based on queries issued by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation on the accounts of the NDDC.

This is different from the probe being carried out by the House Committee on the NDDC over alleged illegal spending and mismanagement of funds totalling N81.5bn.

Those to appear before the Committee on Public Accounts to explain the alleged missing funds include the acting Managing Director and head of the Interim Management Committee, Prof. Daniel Pondei; a former MD, Timi Alaibe; and the immediate-past acting MD, Dr Joi Nunieh.

Responding to an enquiry by our correspondent on Sunday, the committee’s Chairman, Mr Wole Oke, said the IMC could not answer the queries issued by the OAGF as some of the spending were done before it came on board.

Oke said, “The 2008-2012 auditor’s queries were submitted along with 2013-2018 recently. Previous (National) Assembly PAC did not touch it. We have written the NDDC to respond to the queries. The NDDC’s IMC appeared once and they could not defend the queries because, in fairness to them, they were not in office (then). We have asked them to produce those in office that mismanaged the NDDC.”

The lawmaker listed former MDs, directors and board members to be produced by the NDDC as Timi Alaibe (2007-2009), Dr Osato Arenyeka (2011), Dr Christiana Atako (2013), Bassey Dan-Abia (2013), Ibim Semenitari (2015), Nsima Ekere (2016), Prof Nelson Brambaifa (2019) and Chris Amadi, Dr Enyia Akwagaga (2019).

Others are Beniah Ojum, Power Aginigha (late), Chibuzo Ugwuoha, Esoetek Etteh, Christian Oboh, Edikan Eshiet, Mr Kombowei, Tuoyo Omatsuli, Henry Ogiri, Samuel Adjogbe and Mene Derek.

Former and current members of the IMC to appear are the immediate-past acting MD,  Nunieh; and Executive Director of Projects, Dr Cairo Ojougboh.

Oke faulted the Federal Government’s  plan to engage forensic auditors for the NDDC.

The lawmaker said, “To seek to engage external professional by the FGN simply means lack of trust in the capacity of the Auditor-General of the Federation and his workers. We are simply going to waste money on forensic auditors. The National Assembly PACs serve as another layer, pursuant to Section 85 of the Constitution to check and expose corruption. Various statues, if deployed at work, will sanitise the NDDC.”

‘How NDDC’s IMC went on illegal spending spree’

Meanwhile, the  group that petitioned the Senate and the House of Representatives to investigate the  NDDC, Act for Positive Transformation Initiatives, has alleged that Pondei, takes home N61.6m monthly as imprest and for entertainment of guests.

The group also accused the Executive Director (Projects), Dr Cairo Ojougboh, of getting a total sum of N28m monthly for similar purposes.

APTI made the allegation in the memorandum submitted to the House Committee on NDDC, which is investigating the commission over alleged illegal spending and mismanagement of funds.

The memorandum, a copy of which our correspondent obtained on Friday, dated July 7, 2020, was signed by the Head, Directorate of Research, Strategy and Programme, Mr Kolawole Johnson.

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