House of Reps sets to investigate alleged N100 bln fraud in newly formed NEDC
Few days after ending abruptly its inconclusive probe into the allegations of mismanagement at the Niger Delta regional development agency, the House of Representatives is set to investigate alleged misappropriation of about N100 billion at the North East Development Commission (NEDC).
The decision to probe the less than two years old NEDC was reached on Thursday by the lower chamber, which mandated its Committee on NEDC to investigate the allegations and report back to the House for further legislative action.
In recent times, the House has embarked on investigations of the alleged misappropriation of about N40 billion by the interim management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
However, the probe panel abruptly ended its sitting on Tuesday when the acting managing director of the NDDC, Pandie fainted during the sitting of the panel and the later the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godson Apkabio alleged that 60 percent of contracts awarded by the intervention agency went to members of the parliament.
The minister has, however, reversed his statement after the leadership of the house threatened to sue him for perjury and defamation of the legislators.
On Thursday, Ndudi Elumelu told his colleagues at the plenary that the NEDC bill was signed into law in October 2017 by President Muhammdu Buhari to replace other initiatives such as the presidential initiative on North-east (PINE) and Victims Support Fund (VSF) while the board of management inaugurated in May 2019.
He alleged 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 expressed concern about corrupt practices in the agency and over-inflation of contracts, awards of non-existent contracts, massive contract splitting and flagrant disregard for the procurement laws in the award of contracts.
Elumelu said if this consistent abuse of procurement laws are not put to check, they may defeat the purpose for the establishment of the commission, hence the need for an urgent investigation.
According to him, 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 North-eastern part of the country.
He reminded the House that there has been 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.
The NEDC he said was set up to ameliorate the sufferings of the people is alleged to be enmeshed in serious corrupt practices by the management.