• Friday, June 14, 2024
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Lawmakers begin fresh probe of NDDC in September

House of Representatives-Reps

Nigeria’s House of Representatives will begin fresh investigation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) when the National Assembly resumes from its ongoing annual recess in September.

This follows the Auditor General of the Federation’s transmission to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts of six years audited reports into the activities of NDDC and Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc.

The Chairman of the Committee, Wole Oke (PDP-Osun), who confirmed the receipt of the reports on Tuesday, assured Nigerians that both reports would be given accelerated consideration upon resumption from current annual vacation.

While the House of Representatives recently conducted investigation into the alleged N40 billion financial irregularities in the NDDC and the report is awaiting consideration, it would be carrying out fresh investigation on the queries raised in the Auditor-General’s report against the Commission.

The details of the audit queries are contained in the report titled ‘Special periodic checks on the activities and programmes of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), for the period 1st January 2013-30th June, 2018’, which was transmitted to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee via a cover letter with Ref. No: OAuGF/GEN.CORR./SSA/50 and dated 18th August, 2020.

Some of the queries issued in the report include: payment of medical check-up expenses to part-time board members – N459.350 million; excessive payment of imprest to the Executive Board members – N1.358 billion; engagement and payment of external solicitors without the consent of Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation – N1.582 billion; irregularities in the award contract for logistic and consultation services – N199.474 million; and award of emergency contracts without stating the contract prices –N3 billion.

Others are: doubtful commissioning of consultants for the studies and design projects after the award and execution of the relevant projects – N485.128 million; payments of rent to a legal advocate on a property that belongs to River State Government but released to the Federal Government House, the NDDC Headquarters – N1.225 billion; payment of rent to retired generals for regional security surveillance NDDC projects without evidence of service delivery – N698.128 million, as well as inappropriate payments of tenement rate without valid computation in line with the relevant tax laws – N725.460 million; appointments of special and personal assistants for members of Governing Board and payment of their salaries and allowances at government expenses – N1billion.

The Auditor-General’s report also queried the N1.714 billion expended on Partnership on Entrepreneurship Development Scheme without specific benefits or procedure for the recoupment of NDDC investment in the partnership; N190.956 million payment of compensation through Chris Oghene Omoru & Co without evidence of job execution; N86.531 million irregular payment of compensation; N2.527 billion irregularities in the supply of 3,852 doses of Hepatitis B vaccines and 1,570 doses of typhoid vaccines (28) and supply of Lassa Fever kits in (23 Lots) to NDDC warehouse in Port Harcourt and distribution, transportation and storage (5 Lots); N949.220 million contract on dredging/desilting of Imo River, Onuimo and Ihitte Uboma (Lot 2) Ihitte Uboma, Imo State, and N994.415 million contract for the dredging/desilting of Obano-Okposha Oguta Lake Waterway (Lot 2) Imo State.

The Auditor General further queried the NDDC over wastage of public fund due to collection of mobilization fees without report to project sites by contractors – N61.468 billion; some former political office holders and some staff of NDDC retiring with government property in their possession without authorization; incomplete update on contract file; non-submission of comprehensive nominal roll to the periodic check team; appointment of staff on contract staff to the director level without taking into consideration the available vacancies and appointment of directorate cadre personnel as political staff to serve as aides to Board Members.

Similarly, the Auditor-General’s report on NBET Plc’s Audit Monitoring & Evaluation of capital projects and programmes from June 2017 to June 2018 raised queries such as non-submission of annual audited financial statements for six years 2014-2019; payments for contract not executed – N20.952 million; variation of contract without approval – N4.835 million; unauthorized payment for international training without approval – N85.632 million; payment without supporting documents of N1.310 million, and spending government funds on status vehicles.