By EricJames Ochigbo
The Act for Positive Transformation Initiative, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), has requested President Muhammadu Buhari to freeze the account of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and suspend all further spending in the commission.
Mr Johnson Kolawale, the Head, Directorate of Research, Strategy and Programme, made the call at a news conference on Monday in Abuja.
He alleged that plans were ongoing to make fraudulent expenditures by top officials in the commission.
Kolawale revealed that the commission had continued to spend funds against due process and against the directive of the President.
According to him, the commission has squandered an additional nine billion Naira in the last one month.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly and genuine security and anti-corruption agencies to immediately freeze the accounts of the commission and apprehend everyone involved in the continuous scandalous pillaging of the agency’s treasury.
“It gladdens the heart to note that some of the commission’s officials are already refunding part of their loot to government’s recovery coffers.
“The Presidency also pre-emptively disowned the commission’s management over the latter’s impunity in extra-budgetary spending yet ongoing.
“However, decisive steps must be taken urgently to end the audacious and unprecedented looting under a government that professes to be fighting corruption.
“After all, we all bear the consequences of the despicable actions of officials in government,” he said.
Kolawale said that in addition to the N1.5 billion already spent on members of staff of the commission as palliatives for COVID-19, another N340 million had been spent for the same reason.
He stressed the need for every member of staff or appointee to refund the monies collected to the commission’s account.
Kolawale said that a look at the nominal roll of the commission confirmed the alleged alarm on secret employment ongoing in the commission.
According to him, the management recently employed no fewer than 50 contract staff without following civil service rules and guidelines.
He said that some of the new intakes were alleged to be without required skills or experience and were placed on assistant director cadre without competence tests or needs assessment.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for the NDDC, Mr Charles Odili, has denied the allegations saying that they are not true.
Odili further described the allegations as “a grand plan to inundate the public with a negative narrative”.
“The discerning public is already fatigued with this pattern of unending lies against the commission.
“The NDDC is not recruiting, we are not in the position to do that because the 2020 Budget for the commission has not been approved,” Odili said in a text message sent to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.