North East Development Commission In Corruption Deals

North East Development Commission In Corruption Deals
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  • Billions of naira wasted on cars for NASS members
  • Agency refutes allegations

In what appears a season of probes, the House of Representatives mandated its Committees on, Finance, Procurement and NEDC to investigate the allegation of misappropriation of N100 Billion public funds at the NEDC.

BY GEORGE EMINE

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The North East Development Commission, NEDC, was established in 2017 as the focal organisation charged with the responsibility to assess, coordinate, harmonise and report on all intervention programmes, and initiatives by the Federal Government or any of its Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, States; and other Development Partners and for the implementation of all programmes and initiatives for the North East states; Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, respectively.

The NEDC “among other things, is to receive and manage funds from allocation of the Federal Account and international donors for the settlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads, houses and business premises of victims of insurgency as well as tackling menace of poverty, illiteracy level, ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the North-east states.

Despite this, the NEDC has recently come under the searchlight for allegations of corruption, alleging corrupt practices and abuse of office with unilateral approval of 5 Billion naira Covid-19 supplies without the board approval, and N5 Billion used to procure cars for Military operation without due process. It was also alleged that the sum of N100 Billion contract sum was awarded to cronies of the MD without due process in less than one year, and that the level of high handedness and contract splitting has led to mismanagement of N100 Billion under a year without resultant improvement in the region.

In response to a letter of clarification dated July 28, and addressed to the Managing Director, the NEDC stated that, the commission would like to categorically state that the purchase of the aforementioned vehicles to the members of the national assembly did not occur, and would further reiterate the commitment of the commission to transparent practices governed by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” it stated in a letter signed by Abba Musa, Head, Corporate Strategy.

Meanwhile, on July 25, the House of Representatives mandated its Committees on, Finance, Procurement and NEDC to investigate the allegation of misappropriation of N100 billion at the NEDC. The lawmakers took the decision on while adopting a motion brought under matters of urgent national importance by the Minority Leader Hon. Ndudi Elumelu.

Moving the motion during plenary, Hon. Elumelu alleged that corrupt practices in the agency include high handedness by the managing director, Mohammed Alkali, inflation of contracts, awards of nonexistent contracts, massive contract splitting and flagrant disregard for the procurement laws in the award of contracts.

“The N100 billion so far disbursed to the commission by the federal government; allegedly vanished under a year without any visible impact on the refugees or any infrastructural development credited to the name of the commission in the whole of the Northeast.” He said the managing director and his close associates were alleged to have diverted funds from the commission to buy choice properties in highbrow neighborhoods of Abuja, Kaduna and Maiduguri.

“There are allegations of how the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Farouk was said to have entered into an unholy deal with the Managing Director of the Commission to illegally withdraw the sum of N5 Billion from the account of the Commission to purchase military vehicles without any recourse to the board, an act which completely disregards the country’s procurement laws and must be seriously frowned at.

“Disturbed that though the Managing Director single-handedly procured all Covid-19 materials and supplies to the tune of N5 Billion without an approval from the board, there is said to be another massive corruption scheme on the verge of being implemented in the name of housing scheme in Maiduguri without the board’s knowledge,” he said.

Also, a non-governmental group raised the alarm against massive corrupt practices allegedly being perpetuated by the management of the newly established North East Development Commission, NEDC.

The group, Coalition of New Nigeria Transparency and Anti-Corruption, CNNTAC, also allegedly accused the Managing Director of the Commission, Mohammed Goni Alkali of high handedness, disregard for due process and the rule of law in the award of contracts running into billions.

The group therefore called on the Presidency and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to quickly intervene by probing the Commission without delay as delay would ruin the objectives of setting up the Commission.

The group in a statement signed by its Secretary, Tijani Umar alleged that N100 Billion disbursed to the Commission under a year, vanished without any significant impact on the refugees.

The group also alleged that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouk, in a deal with Alkali, out of the scope of operation, and recourse to the board, took N5 Billion recently to purchase vehicles for the military saying they have proven of the alleged improprieties of the Commission.

The group said, “We are in possession of other documents showing the purchases of choice properties by close staff and associates of the MD in highbrow neighbourhoods of Abuja, Kaduna and Maiduguri, which can be traced to over-inflated and non-existent contracts.

“Another massive corruption scheme is on the verge of being implemented in the name of a housing scheme in Maiduguri without the board’s knowledge and approval. About N5Billion has allegedly been spent on Covid-19 supplies without approval of the board, the MD single- handedly took care of all the coronavirus supplies, there is massive contract splitting in the commission the group asserted.”

It is rather appalling how agencies established to ease the pains of citizens who have had a long period of suffering and depraved conditions, would be managed by persons who would embezzle funds made available by the government for this purpose, in this short period of establishment, thereby further impoverishing the regions and its people.

Recall that sequel to the adoption of the recommendations of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee, investigating the alleged misappropriation of N40 Billion by the current IMC. The Senate had on July 23 asked the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to refund immediately, the N4.923 Billion alleged illegal payments made to the staff of the commission and contractors in breach of the procurement process.

Aljazirahnews

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