ADELANI ADEPEGBA and TUNDE AJAJA
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has quizzed top management employees of the Niger Delta Development Commission and recovered documents on the diversion of funds, procurement fraud and misappropriation of N5.4bn COVID-19 funds by the officials.
The ICPC said some NDDC directors were interrogated at its headquarters in Abuja after months of intelligence gathering, following the receipt of petitions from Nigerians on the alleged illegalities and contracts fraud by some officials of the agency.
A group, the Niger Delta Rights Advocate, had in April called for the investigation of NDDC’s Interim Management Committee over N5.4bn personal protection equipment and COVID-19 sensitisation contract it awarded to a firm.
Also, the Ijaw People’s Development Initiative alleged in April that the contract was a needless plot to divert NDDC funds to private accounts, adding that no responsible government institution would embark on such when the economy was nearing recession.
IPDI’s National Chairman, Austin Ozobo, said, “We are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, the EFCC and ICPC to probe the N5bn PPE fraudulent contract and prosecute anyone found culpable in this renewed move to divert monies meant for the people of the Niger Delta region.”
Meanwhile, the ICPC spokesperson, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, said on Saturday that the commission had quizzed some top members of staff and was also investigating the payment of millions of naira to staff of the NDDC for foreign training during the COVID-19 lockdown which were never attended as well as the non-payment of entitlements to students on foreign scholarships.
Ogugua, in a statement entitled, ‘ICPC quizzes NDDC directors, other officials,’ said, “The officials of the agency were also being investigated for their complicity in the alleged diversion of N5.474bn meant for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment for health workers handling the COVID-19 pandemic in the nine states of NDDC.
“Other allegations being investigated by the anti-graft agency include the selling of backdated contract award letters for projects and awards of contracts that were not captured in the budget of the NDDC.
“ICPC has already retrieved relevant documents with which to continue investigations towards the recovery of diverted funds and prosecution of breaches of the law.”