Following a recent petition it received from whistleblowers, the Nigerian Senate said it has launched a fresh probe into allegations of fraudulent spendings by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Sentor Ayo Akinyelure, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions confirmed receiving the fresh petition while speaking with newsmen, Friday.
Though details of the allegations have not been officially made public, AKELICIOUS gathered that the allegations were not included in the N40bn financial scandal at the commission, recently investigated by the Senate.
Also, it was gathered that the Senate will probe the N39.4m allegedly paid by Pondei to a media outfit, one Clear Point Consultancy, to defend media attacks against Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
In addition, a staggering revelation made by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi that the IMC was allegedly paying N51.8m monthly allowance to the acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei and N18m monthly to other IMC members is expected to form part of the fresh investigation to be launch by the Senate.
Nwaoboshi had in a recent statement made the disclosure while reacting to the allegations made by Akpabio.
AKELICIOUS had reported that the probe report by the Ad hoc panel, led by Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, has since been approved by the Senate and submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari before members of the red chamber proceeded on its annual vacation last week.
In the report, the panel recommended the disbandment of the NDDC IMC to the President, asking him to inaugurate the NDDC board already approved by the Senate.
It also asked the Pondei-led IMC to refund N4.923bn to the NDDC coffers. The funds were spent outside of the budget approved for the Commission.
Speaking on the fresh petition received by his Committee after the Senate had concluded its initial investigation, Senator Akinyelure said the acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Pondei, would be summoned by the Senate next Wednesday to answer questions bordering on the corruption allegations raised in the new petition.
Akinyelure said, “There is a petition that has just been sent to my committee by the leadership of the Senate.
“I received it on Tuesday . It is about the alleged fraudulent practices of the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
“I will take my time to study the petition. Our committee will invite him as soon as we conclude hearing on the case involving the UBA which is before our committee.
“We will invite the MD to come and explain to the whole world how he allegedly misappropriated billions of funds as the head of the agency.”
“He (Pondei) will also tell Nigerians about the details of the senators who allegedly took gratification and contracts from him
“He must come and prove it beyond reasonable doubts. No senator awards contracts. We can only facilitate project allocation for our various constituencies.
“We don’t even know when the executive would advertise those projects.
“Our job is to ensure that the project is executed. If any Senator or House of Representatives member had gone to the NDDC management to take money or contract, we will ask the MD to expose such a person.
“The NDDC should stop blackmailing the entire Senate. We have 109 members in the Senate. We are celebrated Nigerians.
“We were millionaires before we came into the Senate. We had jobs. All the allegations against us are fallacy of the highest order.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has openly condemned the abuse of trust by top officials overseeing the NDDC and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
When asked how he felt about recent revelations coming out from the EFCC and the NDDC, President Buhari who spoke after the Eid prayers, he observed inside the Aso Villa, Friday, said:“There has been an abuse of trust by people trusted by the previous administration and this administration.
While assuring that all past and present cases would be fully investigated, he said: “This is why we put the commission (of investigation) in place.”