National News

N6.25bn COVID-19 palliative: We gave Niger Delta governors N100m each – NDDC

…Senate Committee to investigate Niger Delta governors

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has claimed that it gave each of the governors of the nine oil-producing states N100million each as COVID-19 palliatives.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Patrick Ayo Akinyelure, told reporters in Abuja that NDDC officials made the claim.

He said the Senate may summon the governors to testify on how the money was spent.

The sum is part of N6.25 billion allegedly expended by the NDDC on COVID-19 palliatives.

Akinyelure said the governors may decide to delegate their relevant “commissioners in-charge to respond to allegations made by the management of the NDDC against them”.

He insisted that the NDDC Sole Administrator must appear before it or risk an arrest warrant to be issued against him over non-appearance.

He said the petition over the humongous amount spent by the agency on COVID-19 palliatives will not be swept under the carpet.

Akinyelure said: “We have already gone through the process of warrant of arrest and we have reached 95 per cent stage of completion.

“However, for the avoidance of doubt, immediately the warrant of arrest was issued, representatives of the sole administrator came to my office and verbally explained how the money was spent.

“They claimed that N100 million each was given to the nine state governors in the Niger Delta region.

“We now asked them to make a written submission on their claims to reach us before March 15 which was Monday but up till today (Tuesday), we have not seen anything. This particular probe will not be swept under the carpet.

“Therefore, we are calling on the NDDC sole administrator to either produce the Pondei-led interim management committee team or make available the position paper on how the palliatives were shared on or before 3 p.m. on March 18 so that we could study their submissions before March 29th when they are expected to defend their position papers.

“We want to know how many governors pocketed these palliative funds. We are aware that over N100 million each was given to each state governments.

“That was contained in their verbal submission. We want them to put it in writing. When was this money delivered? How many vehicles were delivered to the governors?

“We would now call the governors to come and account for it because none of the 27 Senators from the Niger Delta region is aware of the COVID-19 palliative shared to the governors by the NDDC. None of our constituents also benefitted.

“The Senate has the right to call for an investigation when the interest of the public is at stake.

“If the funds and items were delivered to the governors, we will call them to come and account.

“The state governors might not appear in person but we would expect them to send their commissioners in charge to come and brief us on the issue.

“We will also ask the governors why they failed to explain to the National Assembly. We will demand details of the disbursement.”

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