Senate

N6.25bn COVID-19 relief fraud: Senate panel orders arrest of NDDC sole administrator

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The senate committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions has ordered the arrest of Effiong Akwa, sole administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), over the non-appearance of the immediate past interim management committee (IMC).

The panel is probing the alleged diversion of N6.25 billion meant for the purchase of COVID-19 relief items for the Niger Delta.

The lawmakers began probing the IMC led by Kemebradikumo Pondei, former acting managing director of NDDC, after Sobomabo Jackrich, chairman of the agency’s COVID-19 palliative distribution committee, petitioned the senate.

In his petition, Jackrich had alleged that the aforementioned sum approved by President Muhammadu Buhari was diverted by the Pondei-led IMC.

He also alleged that spoiled food was procured to be distributed to the Niger Delta people.

“The then IMC conspired among themselves and distributed strange substances in the name of palliatives in the form of spoiled food items to a few communities in the region,” Jackrich said in the petition.

“To cover up for the fraud, they tried without success to bribe me with a few bags of rice and beans just to induce me to play along with them.”

Speaking at a session of the committee on Monday, Patrick Akinyelure, its chairman, said Pondei and the rest of the disbanded team had failed to appear before the panel despite being invited five times.

“This is the fifth time our committee will summon the former interim management committee of the NDDC to appear before us but they have always ignored our summons,” Akinyelure said.

“We hereby resolve to request a warrant of arrest to be issued on the sole administrator of the NDDC, Effiong Akwa, to produce Pondei and his team.”

Last year, the senate indicted the IMC and asked it to return N4 billion to the coffers of the government.

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