A civil society organisation, the Act for Positive Transformation Initiative, has accused the Interim Management Committee, (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) of making an attempt to cover up an alleged 40billion fraud in the commission.
The Head, Directorate of Research, Strategy and Programmes of the organisation, Kolawole Johnson, in a statement said his organisation was one of those that presented evidence of fraud against the IMC of the NDDC which prompted the National Assembly to pass a resolution to investigate the fraud allegations.
Johnson, however, raised an alarm, accusing the IMC of the NDDC of plotting to cover up the alleged fraud by writing a secret letter to the Senate requesting for virement “few days to the end of budget lifespan which is expected to end on May 31, 2020.”
He further alleged that the letter was sent to the Senate at the weekend, adding that “the NDDC is seeking for virement to cover up for the many extra budgetary spending and fraudulent contract awards that have brought the commission to its knees in the last six months.”
The statement read: “This act, which clearly contravenes the provisions of the law, is meant to cover up for numerous contract scams we have specifically accused the commission of perpetrating.
“Some line items on the virement list shamefully expose the frantic move of the commission to reverse the illegal acts that will certainly send many actors to jail.
“In the secret letter which was addressed to the Senate and was signed by the acting Managing Director, Prof. Daniel Pondel, the IMC presently seeks for virement to cover up several illegal spending, like a whooping 400,000,000 (Four hundred million naira) purportedly spent on ‘Regional Communication Strategy/Production of Annual Reports’, a project the 2019 budget as passed by the National Assembly provided N110 Million for.
“This is over 300% increase in an expenditure that will not have direct impact on the well being of the people at this time.
“In the same vein, the National Assembly approved N37 million for ‘MD/CEO Football Competition’, the IMC is seeking virement for diversion of over N100,000,000 (One Hundred Million naira) via same competition.
“The IMC is seeking for virement for N500 million naira for ‘Community Sensitization to support project implementation’ when only N100 million was approved in the budget. Another 400% increase.”
It added: “Also, ‘Supply of Science Equipments to Secondary Schools’ was moved from N200 million to N1.2Billion while same item was repeated as ‘Supply of Science Equipments to Nursery, Primary & Secondary Schools’ and another N1.36 Billion which was requested for approval for same item, totaling N2.56 Billion cover up attempt.
“‘Provisions for Annual Economic Summit’ was moved from N30 Million to N250 Million and Provisions for Project Inspection and Commissioning’ moved from N70 Million to N250 Million’.
“Medical Assistance for Staff of the Commission’ was moved from N15 Million to N455 Million.
“Funny items as above scattered in the request are obviously meant to cover up for many fraudulent payments the commission has made considering the fact that this virement is sought majorly for money already spent in defiance to financial guidelines and regulations.
“How do you justify these mindless looting at a time when the country is struggling hard to break even in income?
“This sudden request at the middle of a publicized investigation of N40 billion fraud in the commission certainly confirms our suspicion.
“Furthermore the IMC, in the letter of request for virement, appeared to have tactically admitted the N40b fraud. It notified the National Assembly that the budget provided for only N10 Billion for emergency road projects while the commission has certified emergency road projects valued at N40 Billion. This amount was technically required to be so vired in the details submitted.
“This serves as a notice to the National Assembly that we are watching with keen interest as any underhand political settlement will not be allowed. We believe the commission will not have the effrontery to brazenly approach NASS for such a fraudulent virement without internal supports, especially when such spending is under investigation.
“This N40 Billion allegation of fraud probe will not be allowed to go under the carpet, no matter the antics. The leadership of the National Assembly is also called upon to ensure that none of its members is used to derail the investigation.
“We call on the National Assembly as representatives of the people, to stand up firm for the people of the Niger Delta who live in abject poverty and very unsafe environment to sustain the economy of Nigeria.
“The shameless virement request is an open attempt to further impoverish the people of the oil rich region and make their life even more difficult; the National Assembly must not let this happen.”