By Emma Amaize
ASABA – NIGER-DELTA Development Commission, NDDC, has uncovered a well-designed attempt by more than a few companies to rip off the interventionist agency of N3.9 billion with make-believe interim payment certificates.
Vanguard gathered that the companies were awarded contracts for seven skills acquisition programmes in 136 slots covering entrepreneurship, building, tailoring/fashion design, web application/design, digital photography, cake making/ confectionaries and baking/bread making skills training valued N6.404 billion in August 2019.
Curiously, a month after, in September 2019, some of the companies turned in invoices requesting for payment of 60 per cent of the total contract sum, claiming they had achieved the first milestone activities of the program amounting to N3.9 billion.
Our source said the contractors allegedly working in concert with some officials, prepared interim payment certificates of N3.9 billion, representing 60 per cent of the contract sum pending verification of the claim.
Our source said that on discovering the scam, the Expanded Interim Management Committee, EIMC, wrote a formal complaint petition to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, on the attempt by some companies to defraud and obtain payments from NDDC by false pretences.
It also wrote a former acting Managing Director of the Commission, Dr. Akwagaga Enyia to explain how why she recommended that the claimed sums be paid to the consultants “when you had no reason to believe that the jobs were executed.”
Ag Managing Director, NDDC, Prof Kemebradikuno Pondei, in a petition to the Chairman, ICPC, a copy of which was obtained by Vanguard, calling for probe of the racket, said: “Investigations by the Commission, however, revealed that no training had been conducted as alleged and hat the documents supporting the requests for payment amounting to N3. 9 billion were concocted for the purpose of obtaining money from the Commission under false pretences.”
He confirmed that the contractors actually presented interim payment certificates indicating that they had achieved 60 per cent milestone pending verification of claim, urging ICPC “to take a look at the facts culminating in the petition.”
Similarly, the acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, in a memo dated August 5 to Dr. Enyia, said: “You are requested to provide evidence to management within seven days showing 60 per cent of the contract sum in each of the 136 slots was due and payable as at the time you signed the recommendation.”