SENATE VOWS TO PROBE NDDC OVER 6.25BIL PALLIATIVES SCAM

By Sanni Onogu, Abuja

The Senate on Thursday vowed to get to the roots of N6.25billion allegedly spent on COVID-19 palliatives by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) last year.

It also summoned the new management of the intervention agency to appear on February 22 through its committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Patrick Ayo Akinyelure, told reporters after the panel’s sitting in Abuja that there will be no escape route for the agency’s management over the scandal.

“This is the third time the leadership of the commission has failed to honour invitation on the alleged N6.25billion COVID-19 palliatives scam.

“But unfortunately for them, as a committee of the Senate, we shall thoroughly investigate it whether they like it or not, since the petition on the fraud even came from a ranking officer from the Commission.

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“Even as a Senator from one of the affected States, I along with 26 others, did not see any palliatives being distributed by NDDC last year.

“Since Government is a continuum, the new management of the commission, must appear before this Committee unfailingly on the 22nd of this month,” he said.

He added that submission of the new management on the alleged scam will determine the fate of the sacked Pondei-led IMC, alleged to have misappropriated the money.

A National Assembly probe reports had revealed the NDDC agency under the recently sacked Professor Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei-led Interim Management Committee (IMC) spent N6.25billion on palliatives to cushion effect of COVID-19 last year across the nine oil producing States in the Niger Delta region.

But the chairman of the agency’s COVID-19 palliatives Distribution Committee, Ambassador Soboma Jackrich, in a petition to the Senate, said such money was never spent on palliatives by the then IMC of the agency.

The management of the NDDC was not represented at the committee’s sitting on Thursday to defend allegations against them.