By Tordue Salem – Abuja
The House of Representatives has begun an investigation of the alleged stealing of N100 billion at the North East Development Commission, NEDC.
A motion to investigate the alleged missing money is sponsored by Minority Leader, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta).
The North East Development Commission bill was signed into law in October 2017 by President Buhari to replace other initiatives such as the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE) and victims support fund (VSF) and the board of management inaugurated in May 2019.
While presenting his motion, the principal lawmaker recalled that “the commission was established with a mission of coordinating funds accruing from the federation account and donor agencies for the purposes of rehabilitating and resettling of victims of insurgency, reconstruction of homes, infrastructural development and tackling of illiteracy in the Northeastern part of the country”.
He lamented that “there has been a massive displacement of Nigerian citizens in the Northeast, as a result of the activities of Boko Haram insurgents, where houses, schools, mosques, churches, farmlands and businesses were destroyed thereby rendering people homeless and jobless”, adding that the” NEDC, which was set up to ameliorate the sufferings of the people is alleged to be enmeshed in serious corrupt practices by the management.”
He raised the alarm “that the corrupt practices include high handedness by the managing director Mohammed Goni Alkali, over inflation of contracts, awards of non-existent contracts, massive contract splitting and flagrant disregard for the procurement laws in the award of contracts.
He expressed further concerns “that the N100 billion so far disbursed to the commission by the federal government is said to have vanished under a year without any visible impact on the refugees nor any infrastructural development credited to the name of the commission in the whole of the Northeast.”
He told the House that “there are allegations of how the managing director and his close associates diverted funds meant for the commission to purchasing of choice properties in highbrow neighbourhoods of Abuja, Kaduna and Maiduguri to the detriment of the suffering refugees and infrastructural development.”
Elumelu also indicted the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, of illegally withdrawing money from the Commission.
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“There are allegations of how the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouk, was said to have entered into an unholy deal with the managing director of the commission, to illegally withdraw the sum of N5 billion from the account of the commission to purchase military vehicles without any recourse to the board, an act which completely disregards the country’s procurement laws and must be seriously frowned at,” he said.
He said he was disturbed that “though the managing director single-handedly procured all coronavirus materials and supplies to the tune of N5 billion without approval from the board, there is said to be another massive corruption scheme on the verge of being implemented in the name of the housing scheme in Maiduguri without the board’s knowledge.”
He warned that “these consistent abuses of procurement laws, if not put to check, may defeat the purpose for the establishment of the commission, hence the need for an urgent investigation.”
The House, with Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, adopted Elumelu’s motion and resolved to mandate “the Committees on Finance, Procurement and NEDC to exhaustively investigate these allegations and report back in 8 weeks.”