Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, acting Managing Director, NDDC

By Femi Ogunshola

Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, the Managing Director, Interim Management Committee (IMC) of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has shunned the House of Representatives committee investigative hearing into the alleged N139.32 billion misappropriated between 2013 and 2018.

Rep Wale Oke, Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, announced the absence of the NDDC boss at the scheduled hearing on Wednesday in Abuja.

However, the committee resolved to adjourn sitting to Oct. 29, believing that his absence might not be unconnected with the recent violence in the country,

Mr Anthony Ayine, the Auditor-General for the Federation, had issued a query to the NDCC boss asking him to proffer answers to some of the points raised in the query.

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The query is contained in the 96-page special periodic checks on the activities and programmes on NDDC from Jan. 1, 2013 to June 30, 2018.

According to the report, the 626 contractors engaged by the commission for the execution of contracts worth N309,172,941,001, received a total sum of as mobilisation fees worth N61,468,160,743.

“The projects were in Abia, 32; Akwa Ibom, 64; Bayelsa, 80; Cross River, 29; Delta, 99; Edo, 51; Imo, 33; Ondo, 50; Rivers, 106; and 82 other regional projects.

Some of the queries also include waste of public fund due to collection of mobilisation fees without resorting to project sites by contractors and irregularities in the contract for completion of NDDC headquarters building in Port Harcourt.

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Others are Irregularities in the execution of a contract awarded to Messrs Setraco Nigeria Ltd for the construction of Gbaregolor-Gbekbor-Ogulagha road, unauthorised revision and variation of contract sum without due process among others.

Ayina in his recommendations stated that the sum of N61,468,160,743 should be recovered from the 626 contractors in line with Financial Regulation No. 3104.

This, according to him provides that under no circumstances should payments be made for a job not executed and any amount involved shall be recovered from the said contractor.

He added that such shall be blacklisted and referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for prosecution.

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