Saturday, May 15, 2021

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The Senate orders the return of looted funds by the NDDC

The Nigerian Senate has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look into the possibility of replacing the interim chairman of the Niger Delta Development Authority and return the management of the commission to his office.

The demand comes at a time when the legislature has directed the agency’s officials to immediately return more than N4 billion spent illegally by the commission.

The House took the decision after a committee set up to investigate the alleged embezzlement of N40 billion from the NDDC submitted its report to it.

It was also reported that the amount allegedly paid by the commission to contractors amounted to N4.93 billion in the last three months.

The funds include N85.7m for travel to the UK and N105.5m for scholarships, and N164.2m for travel to Italy. Other funds include N1.96 for the purchase of Lassa fever care equipment.

Senator Muhammad Sani Musa, said he was skeptical about the alleged spending.

“It’s under the scourge of the epidemic (by corona) that you’re going to London for a graduation ceremony. Is the plane taking off?”

He added: “Oh! It’s too much. The whole (money) of this trip is said to have been spent on Lassa fever medicine. There is no case of Lassa fever in the country, right?”
Senator Sani Musa said the council had therefore directed the concerned officials to return the money. “And if this money is returned then it will be deposited in the NDDC account”.

The council also called on the president to dissolve the interim NDDC board if it deems it necessary to do so, and to hire top financial analysts to conduct a thorough investigation into the commission’s activities.

Senator Sani Musa said also advised Muhammadu Buhari to bring the commission under his control because he said he was the only one who would be accepted by the people in this situation.

The move comes as the House of Representatives is also conducting its own investigation into the alleged connection of some of its members on the looted funds.

The speaker directed the accountant general on Thursday to take the necessary steps to bring the Niger Delta minister to justice for allegedly lying and defaming members of parliament.

Minister Godswill Akpabio sent a letter to the House of Representatives after giving him two days to publish the names of the lawmakers he accused some lawmakers of receiving more than 60 percent of the contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Authority.

In the letter, the minister claimed that his remarks had been ignored by the hearing committee on allegations of corruption in the Niger Delta Development Authority.

Femi Gbajabiamila directed the accountant of the legislature to gather lawyers to take all necessary steps to prosecute the minister on charges of conspiracy, and to defraud members of parliament.

He alleged that the minister and other government officials were making such lies in order to divert public attention from the facts, as well as to undermine the ongoing investigation.

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