By Binebai Princewill
The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday constituted a probe Committee that would investigate alleged embezzlement of over ₦40 billion by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Specifically, the Senate said the huge amount was spent within three months by IMC under questionable circumstances.
In line with moves to uncover the fraud, the Senate set up an Ad- hoc committee to be headed by Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi (APC E
kiti North), to look into the financial transactions carried out by IMC on behalf of the commission within the last three months and report back in four weeks.
The call for an investigation is sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Thompson George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East ).
Sekibo had in the motion titled: “Urgent Need to Investigate Alleged Financial Recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC) alleged that reports from the commission indicate a state of financial Recklessness that must be investigated and stopped.
According to him, while President Muhamnadu Buhari set up the IMC to coordinate forensic auditing of financial transactions carried out by the now-dissolved Board of the commission, reports emanating from IMC, indicate financial recklessness on its part too.
He added that aside from financial recklessness, the IMC also indulges in an alleged arbitrary sack of the management staff of the commission.
He said: “While President Buhari ‘s action of setting up an IMC and the forensic audit may have been conceived to forestall the financial recklessness of the commission and reposition it for fast-tracking of the development of the region, the IMC has been more bedevilled with the same financial misuse, misapplication, misappropriation or outright fraud in the management of the funds of the commission.
“Within the last three months, the commission has spent over N40billion of the commission ‘s fund without recourse to established processes of funds disbursements, which has opened up further suspicion among stakeholders of the Niger Delta Region.
“IMC is also alleged to be arbitrarily using executive power to wrongfully sack management staff of the commission without recourse to established civil service rules and practices.
“Consequently, the IMC has lost credibility and seen as a financial conduit pipe based on opinions of stakeholders in the region, which therefore urgently calls for an intervention by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to instil confidence in the people for whom the commission was primarily established.
Though during the general debate on the motion, Senators Bala Ibn Na”Allah ( APC Kebbi South) and Ajibola Basiru ( APC Osun Central ) through different constitutional points of order tried to stop it from sailing through, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan ruled and many other Senators pushed it through.
Na’Allah and Basiru kicked against the motion on the grounds of being driven by allegations.
But Lawan in his ruling countered by saying at the level of investigation, the veracity or otherwise of the allegations would be established.
Members of the Ad- hoc committee are Senators Jika Dauda Haliru ( APC Bauchi Central, Mohammed Tanko Almakura ( APC Nasarawa South), Abdulfatai Buhari ( APC Oyo North ), Chukwuka Utazi ( PDP Enugu North), Ibrahim Hadeija ( APC Jigawa North East ) and Degi – Eremienyo Biobarakuma Wangaha ( APC Bayelsa East ).