Home CRIME Exposed: Akpabio, Pondei, others diverted N6.25bn COVID-19 palliatives, NDDC top official reveals

Exposed: Akpabio, Pondei, others diverted N6.25bn COVID-19 palliatives, NDDC top official reveals

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Senator Godswill Akpabio (Middle) Prof. Pondei Kemebradijunor and Dr. Cairo Ojougboh

By Esther Eugene, Abuja

Daily Watch Publisher, Mr. Cletus Opuleme who is in hidding barely three months after escaping from suspected NDDC top officials sponsored rogue policemen assassination for exposing financial recklessness, further revelations vindicating his scoop.

Izanzan camp spokesman Mr. Belief Famous was short dead by gunmen in Warri three days after a peaceful protest, calling on President Muhammad Buhari to sack Akpabip and NDDC IMC for widely reported financial malfeasance.

High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, a former Niger Delta war lord, has alleged the N6.25bn approved by President Muhammadu Buhari as COVID-19 palliatives for indigent persons in Niger Delta was diverted by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chairman of the Palliative Distribution Committee (PDC).

Jackrich, in a petition he sent to both the Senate and the House of Representatives , prayed the two chambers of the National Assemby to investigate his claim with a view to compelling the Prof. Keme Pondei-led IMC to account for the money.

Incidentally, Senator Goswill Akapbio and Professor Pondei Kemebradikumor and other too NDDC IMC top officials have  insisted that the National Assembly ad-hoc committees probing the financial sleaze in the NDDC were plotting to scuttle the forensic audit of the commission by discrediting it (NDDC) in their reports.

In the petition dated August 3, 2020,Jackrich also accused the IMC of deliberately refusing to pay security contracts, thereby compromising the security of the region and fueling tension among the youth.

Copies of the petition were sent to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and all the relevant committees of the National Assembly.

Jackrich recalled that at the inauguration of the palliative committee, the President made it clear that the N6.25bn should be used to uplift the indigent and the poor in the Niger Delta.

He said that the palliative distribution was officially flagged off in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, but lamented that “today, all of that can be regrettably described as a show of shame and a scam.”

The PDC chairman claimed that the IMC staged-managed a camera-party where it distributed some food items to an “insignificant number of persons in the Niger Delta to falsely give the impression that the palliatives had been distributed.”

A part of the petition obtained by The Nation reads: “The N6.25 billion that was magnanimously approved by Mr. President to help the poor and indigent of the Niger Delta during this difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic as palliatives has curiously been allegedly misappropriated and embezzled by the IMC of the NDDC and its co-conspirators.

“As the chairman of the Palliatives Distribution Committee, my findings is not only that the money cannot be accounted for, but there is nothing on the ground to show that N6.25billion of our hard-earned tax payers money was invested for its original purpose which the President approved. The materials and supplies were to be done through Emergency Procurement method as provided in Sections 42(b) (c) and 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

“Whereas the palliatives were meant for the indigent and poor, curiously, just a handful of food items though staged-managed, was provided and distributed to an insignificant number of persons in the Niger Delta states under a camera-party just to falsely give the impression that the palliatives have been distributed.

“Some of the food items were politically shared among the IMC choice areas, including a few states of choice which aligned with them politically to undermine the original essence of the Palliatives by President Buhari which was approved with tax payers monies.

“As the chairman of the PDC, I cannot account for the palliatives as my committee was sidelined just because I, as the chairman, demanded for accountability and transparency in the processes as well as value for money with respect to the palliatives.”

Jackrich said the template handed over to him indicated that nine trucks of food items would be distributed to each of the nine states in the region but lamented that the IMC hijacked the entire process.

He added: ”They called and handed me with few bags of rice and beans just to induce me to play along with them giving the false impression that the process was successful. This appears to me as a cover-up plot. Most of the foods items that they claimed to have distributed were spoilt and unhealthy for human consumption.

“Thus only the IMC can tell where they got those poisonous and rotten food items from. The next thing we heard surprisingly, was that the palliatives had been distributed. I managed to monitor from a distance the charade and show-off since I and my committee were stripped of our assignments by the IMC in the distribution processes and left us incommunicado. All needed logistics that my committee was supposed to work with were denied President.

THE N6.25bn approved by President Muhammadu Buhari as COVID-19 palliatives for indigent persons in Niger Delta was diverted by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chairman of the Palliative Distribution Committee (PDC) , High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, has alleged.

Jackrich, in a petition he sent to both the Senate and the House of Representatives , prayed the two chambers of the National Assemby to investigate his claim with a view to compelling the Prof. Keme Pondei-led IMC to account for the money.

Incidentally, Pondei yesterday insisted that the National Assembly ad-hoc committees probing the financial sleaze in the NDDC were plotting to scuttle the forensic audit of the commission by discrediting it (NDDC) in their reports.

In the petition dated August 3, 2020,Jackrich also accused the IMC of deliberately refusing to pay security contracts, thereby compromising the security of the region and fueling tension among the youth.

Copies of the petition were sent to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and all the relevant committees of the National Assembly.

Jackrich recalled that at the inauguration of the palliative committee, the President made it clear that the N6.25bn should be used to uplift the indigent and the poor in the Niger Delta.

He said that the palliative distribution was officially flagged off in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, but lamented that “today, all of that can be regrettably described as a show of shame and a scam.”

The PDC chairman claimed that the IMC staged-managed a camera-party where it distributed some food items to an “insignificant number of persons in the Niger Delta to falsely give the impression that the palliatives had been distributed.”

A part of the petition obtained by The Nation reads: “The N6.25 billion that was magnanimously approved by Mr. President to help the poor and indigent of the Niger Delta during this difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic as palliatives has curiously been allegedly misappropriated and embezzled by the IMC of the NDDC and its co-conspirators.

“As the chairman of the Palliatives Distribution Committee, my findings is not only that the money cannot be accounted for, but there is nothing on the ground to show that N6.25billion of our hard-earned tax payers money was invested for its original purpose which the President approved. The materials and supplies were to be done through Emergency Procurement method as provided in Sections 42(b) (c) and 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

“Whereas the palliatives were meant for the indigent and poor, curiously, just a handful of food items though staged-managed, was provided and distributed to an insignificant number of persons in the Niger Delta states under a camera-party just to falsely give the impression that the palliatives have been distributed.

“Some of the food items were politically shared among the IMC choice areas, including a few states of choice which aligned with them politically to undermine the original essence of the Palliatives by President Buhari which was approved with tax payers monies.

“As the chairman of the PDC, I cannot account for the palliatives as my committee was sidelined just because I, as the chairman, demanded for accountability and transparency in the processes as well as value for money with respect to the palliatives.”

Jackrich said the template handed over to him indicated that nine trucks of food items would be distributed to each of the nine states in the region but lamented that the IMC hijacked the entire process.

He added: ”They called and handed me with few bags of rice and beans just to induce me to play along with them giving the false impression that the process was successful. This appears to me as a cover-up plot. Most of the foods items that they claimed to have distributed were spoilt and unhealthy for human consumption.

“Thus only the IMC can tell where they got those poisonous and rotten food items from. The next thing we heard surprisingly, was that the palliatives had been distributed. I managed to monitor from a distance the charade and show-off since I and my committee were stripped of our assignments by the IMC in the distribution processes and left us incommunicado. All needed logistics that my committee was supposed to work with were denied us”

In the petition, Jackrich also said the NDDC distributed old goods and wares as medical equipment in its warehouse to mislead the President.

He was reacting to a report credited to the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee that he and members of the IMC were collecting 30 per cent of total contract amount from contractors before paying them.

Pondei denied the allegation, saying: “It is surprising and disappointing that the Senate committee can be attributed with unproven allegations as their final report.”

He claimed in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Edgar Ebigoni, that the siege on the NDDC had been broken with the naming of those who are behind the financial malfeasance and contract racketeering in the intervention agency.

A part of the statement reads: ”The issue of financial recklessness is a matter of subjective judgment. The reports of the hearings have been submitted and it is clear there was no money missing at the commission.

“The response of the commission to the new reports is that there is no fraud at the NDDC. Prof. Pondei has run a very transparent administration and this transparency is now apparent after the searchlight put on his administration in the past one month.

“We suspect that after the scheming of the past four weeks failed to achieve the purpose of sacking the management and scuttling the work on the forensic audit exercise, the schemers are out again to heat up the polity. The point they miss is that the forensic audit exercise is a project of Mr. President. Hounding and haunting an innocent academic who is merely on a national assignment will not scuttle the audit.”

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