- Buhari, Lawan deliberate on intervention agency, insecurity
The Senate Committee on Public Petitions, Ethics and Privileges, yesterday, resolved a warrant of arrest be issued on the Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Okon Akwa, over alleged misappropriation of N6.2 billion COVID-19 palliatives.
This is as President Muhammmadu Buhari called for an end to the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC and demanded the submission of the reports.
The Senate’s action followed a petition filed against members of the erstwhile Interim Management Committee (IMC) headed by Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei on the utilisation of the fund in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic last year.
In the said petition, it was alleged that the IMC mismanaged the N6.2 billion earmarked by the Federal Government for the people of the Niger Delta region.
The Committee on Public Petitions, Ethics and Privileges had, last month, given the management of NDDC up till February 22 to appear before the lawmakers to give account of the whooping sum of money.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Patrick Akinyelure said the warrant of arrest became necessary because the management of NDDC had refused to honour the committee’s invitation four times after the petition.
Erstwhile Chairman of the COVID-19 Palliative Distribution Committee of the NDDC, Chief Sobomavo Jackrich, who authored the petition, told journalists that so much efforts and resources were invested to prepare grounds for the palliatives before the fund was allegedly misappropriated.
“I was appointed the palliative chairman, but when the sum of N6.2 billion was released by the Federal Government, the NDDC management spent the fund without my knowing.
“It’s unfortunate that they have been evasive when the Senate Committee wanted them to come and explain how the fund was spent. “If they eventually come around and explain satisfactorily, I will be alright, but they must appear to explain how the fund was disbursed,” Jackrich said.
He expressed confidence that the Senate will do everything possible to ensure that all those involved in the alleged misappropriation of the fund were brought to justice. In a chat with State House Correspondents after a closed door meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa yesterday,
Senate President Ahmed Lawan said those indicted by the NDDC audit should be punished to serve as deterrent to others. Lawan also said that the National Assembly was committed to the appropriation of funds for security agencies to fight insecurity across the country.
The Senate President stated that he discussed the issue of nomination of the NDDC board members with the President. He said: “We also had discussions on the need to ensure that government functions very well. So we have few issues.
These are housekeeping issues of getting the NDDC governing council board nominations. And I agree with Mr. President, that we have to end the forensic audit to ensure that everything is done properly and the report is submitted to him. “And here, it is very significant that whoever is found culpable, should be treated as such.
So, that that will serve as a lesson and as a deterrent to others, because NDDC should have transformed the Niger Delta into a better environment than what it has.
“NDDC was created by a law of the National Assembly since 2000 or so, and we are talking about how many years now, we are where we are talking about almost two decades. That should have given sufficient time, given the resources that were deployed into the entities.
So we need to sanitise the NDDC and get the resources fully deployed in developing the area in the Niger Delta.” Lawan added that he discussed the issue of insecurity with Buhari, insisting that all Nigerians have roles to play in restoring sanity.
He said: “Nobody would like to see the kind of thing that we experience in various parts of the country in the form of insecurity. We cannot shy away from getting our people secured; we have to secure the environment for them to earn the means of livelihood.
We would like to see our farmers go back to farms before the rains start and this means we have to secure the rural parts of Nigeria as well as the urban centres because we need businesses to flourish.” He disclosed that there would be a lot of activities in the next two months in ensuring the security of the entire country.
“You recall that the National Economic Council approved of taking some funds from the excess crude accounts with a view to giving more sources to our Armed Forces. This is a commendable effort and we are ready to help with appropriation to ensure that we buy those equipment required by the security,” he said.
Lawan pointed out that an average Nigerian believe in the corporate existence of the country and that explained why they choose to live anywhere and everywhere in the country without any fear of molestation.
“As political leaders, we are supposed to ensure that we support this kind of feeling,” he admonished.