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Group Alleges N80billion Scam in NDDC

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Group Alleges  N80billion Scam in NDDC

***.asks National Assembly to halt further spending outside Salaries by IMC

An Advocacy group named; The Act for  Positive Transformation Initiative ( ACT) has alleged that N80billion and not N40billion, has so far been recklessly spent by officials of the Niger Delta Developmwnt Commission (NDDC) within the last five months .There have been accusations and counter accusations on alleged financial impropriety in the operational runnings NDDC between the National Assembly and the Interim Management Committee ( IMC) of the agency within the last three months. 

The Senate and by extension,the House of Representatives through separate resolutions taken in April this year, setup Ad-hoc committee to investigate an alleged misappropriation of N40billion by the Interim Management team of the commission .
The action however set the public institutions against each other with allegation of witch hunting from the IMC of the NDDC against the National Assembly and counter accusations of running away from the exercise as a result of alleged skeletons in the cupboard of IMC officials.

With months rolling by without any of the committees swinging into full action for the probe exercise, The Act for Positive Transformation Initiative ( ACT), has written a petition to leadership of the National Assembly in persons of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, for expeditious action on the planned probe exercise.
In the petition titled : ” Save the Niger Delta Development Commission Now ” and dated 30th June , 2020, the group alleged that verifiable available records at its disposal , indicate that money squandered by IMC of NDDC between January and May this year, is N80billion as against N40billion the Senate passed resolution on in April this year .ACT in the petition signed by its Head , Directorate of Research , Strategy and Programmes, Kolawole Johnson, made breakdown of the allegedly squandered N80billion and consequently urged the National Assembly to stop NDDC under its present leadership from further financial transaction aside monthly salary payments to workers .
The petition reads in part, “That the National Assembly directs the Commission to stop all forms of procurements. 
“That the National Assembly directs the commission and relevant agencies to stop all forms of payments  from the commission’s account. “That a  proper account must be given for the over N80billion Naira squandered by the commission between January and May, 2020.”That the commission should be allowed to pay salaries only.”That the National Assembly directs the commission to stop payments of all forms of allowances as this has been grossly abused”.Kolawole on behalf of the Advocacy group alleged further in the two page petition that the Interim Management Committee members of the NDDC  pay themselves, monthly, several illegal allowances running into hundreds of millions which  are also  extended to some staff of the commission.Example of such special  payments made through alleged fraudulent imprest  according to him , was paid to Mr Charles Odili, a director in the commission, on the 30th of April, 2020 at about 12:56pm in the sum of N10 million as captured  in his UBA private account . Same Charles Odili the group alleged further , raised memos for over over 1.2Billion Naira payments for imaginary media work within four weeks.

They said : Members of the Interim Management Committee also use bank accounts of staff of the commission for such illegal payments. ” The MD of the Commission, Prof Pondei routes one of his illegal monthly  allowances N51.6million as Imprest on Personal Security and Project Monitoring , through the bank account of a staffer named Oweife Justina with employee ID no 94 while Dr Cairo Ojugboh , who collects N18million Naira for same purpose,  uses Eno Ukpe Bank account, a staffer with employee ID no 509, for his payments. 

“They also receive N10million naira monthly for hosting visitors. These payments are not connected to the money already provided in the budget for project monitoring, which has been overdrawn by over N180m in the last few months. 
“That the National Assembly strives to save the commission from the monster of corruption through the ongoing probe. Among numerous agitations, our office is, in recent times, inundated with cries from students abroad under the commission’s scholarship who are currently stranded in different countries. 

“While these students are facing untold hardship, the present Interim Management Committee members are busy paying themselves money meant for the hapless  students. 

” Prof Pondei in particular,  who paid himself and received foreign scholarship payments into his private UBA account no 1002290165 on the 17th of April at about 16:50gmt.
” Same for Dr Cairo Ojugboh who also received millions into his private account no 1002428409 around 16:24GMT being payment for 2020 Post graduate scholarship for himself. Several staff, especially those who had allegedly conspired with the present management to squander the commission’s fund , also received millions into their private accounts for same 2020 post graduate scholarship they never attended even during lockdown.
“We wish to reiterate our call for a live telecast of the public hearing.

The Advocacy group added that it could be recalled that the 2019 budget of the NDDC expired on May 31, 2020 and that the commission is yet to submit the 2019 budget performance to enable the parliament begin legislative work on the 2020 budget submitted to the National Assembly.

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Bauchi/Benue Govs’ feud: Gov Diri to the rescue

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Bauchi/Benue Govs’ feud: Gov Diri to the rescue

By Princess Rose Yusuf

The Bayelsa State Governor, Duoye Diri has waded in to the war of words between the Governors of Bauchi and Benue State as the recent altercations between the Governors have become very disturbing.
He called on the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to wade in and ensure that the matter is resolved.
He was speaking during a courtesy visit to Governor Bala Muhammed in Bauchi State Government’s House Thursday.
Diri said,
“The raging current issue between two brother Governors of the same party is not good, I seize this opportunity to advise and call on both of you who are members of our great party to please cease further actions and reactions on the burning national security issues.
“May I also use the opportunity to call on our party to immediately intervene and resolve whatever issues that are still yet unresolved amicably as a party and as brothers.”

In his response, Governor Muhammed promised to cooperate and reduce the tension and he gave the assurance that no words would be heard on the matter again. He also seized the opportunity to  apologise to all Governors, the national assembly, his constituents and all Nigerians.
He said, “There is no disharmony between me and my brother and my friend in Benue, we are just having the courage to discourse a burning National issue and I am happy that Nigerians have the opportunity, to discourse the issue and we are going to do everything on my own part to make sure we disedcalate the issue that it will not bring injury to our party and to national unity. I was not doing anything in anyway to insult, or to cause any injury to my brother whom I have worked together with at the cabinet and now as Governors.
“I want to use this opportunity to apologise to my various contituencies; especially the national assembly even though I said the truth but it has injured their sensibilities or it has touched on their privileged as we used to say in parliamentary parlance.
“I was doing it out of nationalism and patriotism. At the same time the Governors if what I said was also injurious to them, I apologise to them and say sorry to them and indeed all Nigerians.
“But certainly as I said, my brother, I have no apology for saying the truth, but certainly sometimes you say the truth and it would be injurious.

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Senate confirms Bawa as EFCC Chairman

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Senate confirms Bawa as EFCC Chairman

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Abdulrasheed Bawa as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He was confirmed after being grilled during Senate plenary.

For more than six years the commission was headed by persons in acting capacity.

For the first time a staff of the commission who is not a police officer is being appointed as chairman.
He rose through the ranks from the academy before being nominated to head the commission.

The Anti graft agency’s chairmanship designate reacted to a plethora of questions posed by Senators on his preparedness for the job, given his age and working in a complex society like Nigeria, at planary

Bawa, addressed most of the concerns of lawmakers, while assuring that he would bring his experience to bear having joined the agency in 2004.

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Gov Bala Mohammed berates Ortom for criminalising the Fulani herders

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Gov Bala Mohammed berates Ortom for criminalising the Fulani herders

By Princess Rose Yusuf

Governor Bala Muhammed of Bauchi State has berated the Benue state governor for being an arrow head in excerbating the bad media framings, criminalizing the Fulani tribe in Nigeria.
Muhammed spoke at the Press week organised by the Bauchi state Correspondents’ Chapel, Monday, in Bauchi.
The Governor reminded Ortom that other states in the North also accommodates other tribes, including people from the Tiv extraction in Bauchi and other places.
In his words, “We have so many Tiv speaking people farming in Alkaleri, In Tafawa Balewa and in Bogoro LGAs; has anybody told them to leave the State?. “We have not; because its their own inalienable rights to be there.

Explaining further, he said there are Yorubas in Bauchi, for over 150 years, even before the birth of Nigeria; some of them have risen to become permanent Secretaries in the Civil Service of the state, and other states of the North East like Gombe and Borno.“
“However, because at the moment the Fulani man is practicing the tradition of pastoralism, he has been exposed to the vagaries of the forest, cattle rustlers who carry guns, killed him and take away his livelihood, his cows.”
The Governor said he is left with no option than to carry the AK47 because the society and the government could not protect him.
“What is his fault? it’s the fault of the government and the people.”Governor Senator Bala said“nobody  should criminalize all Fulanis, because in every tribe, there are criminals. “If Cybercrime is practiced by one tribe, you don’t criminalise all the tribe by saying they are criminals.
“That sensitivity is highly needed, and journalists have to exercised restraints in some reports, decipher the wrongs from rights, especially any report that is not building this country Nigeria, which can divide her and threaten the peace and the unity of the country

He however, commended his counterpart Simon Lalong of Plateau State for ending the mutual suspicion between fulanis and farmers of his state without looking at political differences.
He said, “I must comment the chairman of the Nortgern Governor’s forum, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State. “With his diverse background despite being a minority State, he’s leading the northern Governors with focus, with sense of humour, and maturity.

Muhammed indicated that people like Lalong are needed in Nigeria for the good fight of faith for unity and peace in his state as the fight between farmers and fulanis in the Plateau has ceased, because of justice and equity.

Patriotism among communities is now common place in Plateau because of governance that fosters understanding between the diverse ethnic groups in the state.

“And that is what is happening in Bauchi, where everyone is important. So the media must single out those people for promotion not like people in other States that are asking Fulanis to leave their lands.
The Governor indicated that nobody can intimidate any one over land since it belongs to all(our fathers land) quoting section 23, 24 and 25, of the constitution to back up his claim he said that every Nigerian is free to stay anywhere.
It is worthy of note that Governor Muhammed though not a Fulani by tribe, but a Bajari from Duguri district, Alkaleri LGA has been standing in defense of the Fulani.
In a swift reaction the Benue state Governor expressed disappointment with his colleague the Bauchi state Governor, for heaping the blame of the negative perception of Fulani herders on him.
“He said, it was surprising that a colleague, who took the oath of office to protect and preserve the Constitution, now takes the lead in violating provisions of the same Constitution by calling for lawlessness.

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