By Henry Umoru
THE Senate has begun probe into alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
The Senate, also yesterday set up a six-man Ad-hoc Committee to carry out an holistic investigation into all issues relating to but not limited to the alleged misapplication and misappropriation of the sum of N40billion by the commission.
The Committee, which has four weeks to report back at plenary, will also look into all procurements and financial transaction of the commission in this fiscal year (2020) and any other matter that is not in accordance with the provision of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000 or any other extant law.
The Ad-hoc Committee has Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi ( APC, Ekiti North) as Chairman.
The Senate also mandated its Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP, Delta North) led Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs to investigate allegation of arbitrary sack of the management staff of the commission and report back at plenary in four weeks.
Resolutions of the Senate yesterday, were sequel to a sponsored motion by Senator Thompson Sekibo (PDP Rivers East).
Presenting the motion, Senator Sekibo alleged that reports from the commission have indicated cases of financial recklessness that must be investigated and stopped.
He said that while President Muhamnadu Buhari set up the IMC to coordinate forensic audit of financial transactions carried out by the now dissolved board of the commission, reports emanating from IMC, indicate financial recklessness also on its part.
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He added that aside financial recklessness being carried out by the IMC, it was also involved in alleged arbitrary sack of the management staff of the commission.
According to him, the “Senate believes that while the President’s action of setting up an IMC and the forensic audit may have been conceived to forestall the financial recklessness in the commission and reposition it for fast tracking of the development of the region, the IMC has been more bedeviled with the same financial misuse, misapplication, misappropriation or outright fraud in the management of the funds of the commission.”
He said that the Senate was “Alarmed that the IMC has inundated itself with undue gross misconducts in fraudulent contracts award without recourse to due process and flagrant disobedience to the provisions of Sections 19, 25, 41, and 42 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, and that within the last three months, the commission had spent over N40billion of the commission’s fund without recourse to established processes of funds disbursement, which has open up further suspicion among stakeholders of the Niger Delta region.”
He said that the Upper Chamber was further worried “that there has been loud accusation of misuse of funds by previous management of the commission, which portrayed the commission as a financial conduit pipe, especially when the aspiration of the founding fathers have been forsaken.”
Though during general debate on the motion Senators Bala Ibn Na”Allah (APC Kebbi South) and Ajibola Basiru ( APC Osun Central through point of Order, tried to stop it from sailing through, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan ruled and many other Senators pushed it through.
Na’Allah and Basiru kicked against the motion on the ground of being driven by allegations.
At the end of the day, Lawan in his ruling, countered by saying that at the level of investigation, the veracity or otherwise of the allegations would be established.