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NCDC : Senate wants Refund of N4.923billion pocketed by mgt, staffers and Police

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NCDC : Senate wants Refund of N4.923billion pocketed by mgt, staffers and Police

***Wants IMC disbanded

The Senate today ordered for immediate refund of N4.923billion expended by the IMC on questionable items between April and June this year.

It also called for immediate disbandment of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for allegedly turning the intervention body into cesspool of corruption .

The upper legislative chamber added, that Board of Directors, is the statutory body that should run the agency at anytime and not Interim Management Committee ( IMC).

These and other far reaching recommendations, were taken by the Senate on the strength of report presented to that effect by its Ad- hoc committee on alleged financial recklessness in Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC).

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi ( APC Ekiti North), in the 17- point recommendations he presented and adopted by the Senate , said the Interim Management Committee of the commission spent monies recklessly as made available from the three major sources.

The sources he explained, are monetary contributions into the agency by oil companies mostly in dollars , budgetary provisions and Internally Generated Revenues ( IGR) .

From the three sources according to the report, the Commission got a total of N81.5billion between October 29, 2019 and May 31, 2020 and expended all.

Though two different IMCs , the report stated, held the Commission during the period under review but the current one headed by Professor Daniel Pondei which assumed office on the 19th February this year , spent about 90% of the monies on items that were very questionable .

The most frivolous of the spendings , the report stated , was the N4.923billion spent between March and May this year , which it declared , must be refunded by the beneficiaries who were mostly members of the NDDC IMC , the entire staff of the Commission and the Police High Command .

The breakdown of the N4.923billion to be refunded are N1.49billion spent as relief fund for COVID-19, N1.12billion for Public Communication , N1 .96billion for procurement of Lassa Fever Kits, N164.2million claimed to have been expended on Union Members Trip to Italy , N105.5million said to have been spent on Scholarships Grants and N85.7million claimed to have been spent on Overseas Travel to the United Kingdom during total lockdown against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically on the COVID-19 relief funds, the Acting MD of the Commission , Pondei, will refund N10million , Executive Director ( Project) Dr Cairo Ojougboh , will refund N7million along with one other executive director ,

Others are 157 staffers of the Commission who collected N3million as relief fund , 148 others who collected N1.5 million each , another set of 157 others who collected N1million each and the remaining 497 staffers claimed to have been given N600,000.00 each as relief funds for COVID-19.

Out of the N1.5billion claimed to have been expended on relief funds , the balance of N475million is to be refunded by the Police High Command for allegedly collecting the sum for procurement of face masks and hand sanitizers .

Senate also resolved to revisit the Act establishing the Commission , in getting it repositioned for execution of projects that would develop the Niger Delta Area and not engaging on all manner of operations not correlated to the Niger Delta Master Plan .

The upper legislative Chamber kicked against the idea of self appointed forensic auditor by the Commission , saying such a practice cannot expose fraud let alone , ensure transparency and accountability .

It consequently recommended that the Office of Auditor General of the Federation , should by constitutionality , be saddled with such responsibility .

” In order to ensure that the forensic audit achieves the purpose for which it is set up and inspire confidence in the operational and financial processes of NDDC oversight of the audit should be transferred to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation .

” This will guarantee independence , credibility, transparency and professionalism in the output of the exercise.

” Furthermore, the Committee recommends that the President with advice from the Auditor General should appoint a renowned , internationally recognised Forensic Auditor to carry out the exercise” , the report states .

The Upper legislative Chamber however mandated its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate alleged meddlesomeness of its members in the operations of the commission .

” There are assertions of blackmail by NDDC against members of the National Assembly on the the subject of procurement process , this must be investigated and if found true, the practice must stop ” , the report states .

Virtually all the Senators who contributed, insisted that the NDDC ‘s IMC must be immediately dissolved to have way for Board of Directors .

According to them, what the IMC members were doing at the Commission ,was nothing but day light robbery .

“People in the Niger Delta Area , are suffering , and billions of Naira are being looted on daily basis by those ordinarily saddled with the development of the area “, they lamented.

In his remarks, the President of the Senate , Ahmad Lawan, assured his colleagues , that the report would be acted upon by President Muhamnadu Buhari.

” This report has exposed inefficiency and large scale corruption going on in NDDC.

” It has revealed that over the years , those charged with the responsibility of running the Commission and by extension, facilitating development of the Niger Delta Area , have squandered the resources given to them for that purpose.

“We are on the same page with the executive in getting the agency sanitized and I can assure you that the report will receive the required attention it deserves from Mr President”, he said .

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Legislature

Senate panel suspends budget defense over attacks by hoodlums

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Senate panel suspends budget defense over attacks by hoodlums

Senate committee on Interior yesterday suspended budget defence by the agencies under its purview on account of the #ENDSARS protests that was hijacked by hoodlums and the COVID-19 pandermic.
The committee chairman senator Kashim Shetima said most of the paramilitary organisations were victims of the attacks by the hoodlums as some of their offices were attacked and others burnt down.
He said they have submitted their 2020/2021 budget containing details hence there was no compelling need for them to hang on.

“Those paramilitary organisations, the Federal fire service and the Civil Defence submitted their budgets containing details of expenditure.
“We have received and will subject them to public scrutiny and when the need arises we will call them back to shed more light.

“In the light of the growing challenges and the issue of the  pandemic we felt compelled not to dissipate their useful time and energy answering a lot of questions from us.

He said there are no compelling issues to hold them back.
“If there is need for them to appear before us as we said earlier, we will call them back and subject them to scrutiny.
“We have the budget and there are explanations on  how the funds are expended.
“If we want an additional information we will inquire from them but right now some of their organisation are being attacked some of their offices were burnt down, so how do you expect us to hold them to ransome here while their needs for them to attend to outside.”

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Legislature

Senate faults FG’s lackadaisical approach to environmental safety

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Senate faults FG’s lackadaisical approach to environmental safety

**Minister says Ogoni cleanup is FG’s priority

The Senate committee has on Environment has expressed disappointment over Nigeria’s disregard for environmental safety issues.

This came to the fore Tuesday during the Budget defense by the ministry of environment before the the Senate Committee on Environment.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, indicated that government’s failure to accord priority to environment issues is underscored by the relatively poor budgetary allocation to the Environment Ministry.

The Environment Minister, Mohammad Abubakar told the Senate Committee that his Ministry is presently tackling environmental issues including oil spills, among others.

The sum of N8.9 billion is the total allocation for the Environment Ministry, as captured in the 2021 budget.

When asked about the much talked about Ogoni cleanup that has lingered for some years the minister said,

“Three weeks ago we were able to completed six remediated sites that are being certified by National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) right now. I think about three or four more are in the pipeline to be completed and certified and the remaining fifteen sites of the first 21 are being worked on seriously and we completion very soon. “There are 36 additional sites that have been awarded. They are at various stages of work. “There are livelihood programme that are going on which have been part of the clean up project by UN Environment Programme (UNEP) that is ongoing currently.
“About 1200 women and youths are being trained in various skills like agriculture, aquaculture, poultry, welding and so on. A great number of youths have been employed by the projects.”
He said the cleanup of Ogoni is ongoing adding that it is one of the main project of this administration.

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Legislature

CNA decries theft by Legislative Aide in NASS

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CNA decries theft by Legislative Aide in NASS
…As NASSLAF inaugurates new Exco

The Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Architect Ojo Amos Olatunde, has condemned in strongest terms, the burglary act recently carried out by a legislative aide in the National Assembly .

The CNA who made the condemnation in Abuja Friday during the inauguration ceremony of newly elected executives of the National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum ( NASSLAF), challenged the new executives to fish out bad eggs among them .

” It is sad to note the ugly incident that occurred recently , when a legislative Aide was caught breaking into the office of a Lawmaker .
” What would have prompted such regrettable incident? There is the need for this newly elected executives to be vigilant by flushing out any bad eggs amongst you ” , he said .
He also admonished the executive to run welfare – driven Unionism and not confrontational one against the management in any way, since accordimg to him, most of their outstanding demands, were met within his first 28 days in office as Clerk to the National Assembly .

His words, “This EXCO must be guided that Unionism is all about welfare of all and sundry .
“Union matters must witness a new dawn and turn, which must be separated from the ugly past.
“I am proud and elated to state that under my watch, we have fulfilled the promise of the ‘First 28 Days’, and we are resolved to make sure that not only all statutory claims of Legislative Aides are promptly paid, but training programmes are pursued to logical conclusions ” .

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan who was represented by the Senate Deputy Leader, Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice ( APC Ondo North), also tasked the newly inaugurated EXCO to make NASSLAF the required lubricant of the operational engine of the Federal lawmakers .
In his inauguration speech, the Chairman of NASSLAF, Alhaji Salisu Zuru, promised to run an EXCO and Union that will not be confrontational to the management of the National Assembly at all levels but collaborative .
“As a union, we intend to run an inclusive administration . We shall ensure collaborative synergy with relevant stakeholders like the National Assembly Service Commission , National Assembly Management and the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies ( NILDS).
“History has taught us that constructive engagement achieves results, more than unnecessary grandstanding and confrontation.” he said.

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