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House of Reps says N100bn missing in 3-year-old North-East Devt Commission, begins probe

The House of Representatives has cried out over alleged missing N100 billion in the North East Development Commission (NEDC) which came into existence three years ago.

The federal lawmakers have, therefore, resolved to investigate the alleged stealing of the N100 billion as well as the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, who was alleged to have illegally withdrawn money from the NEDC.

This followed a motion sponsored by Minority Leader, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu, during the plenary of the House members on Thursday.

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the NEDC bill into law in October 2017.

In his motion, Elumelu recalled that “the commission was established with a mission of coordinating funds accruing from the federation account and donor agencies for the purposes of rehabilitating and resettling of victims of insurgency, reconstruction of homes, infrastructural development and tackling of illiteracy in the North eastern part of the country”.

Speaking further, he said, “There has been a massive displacement of Nigerian citizens in the Northeast, as a result of the activities of Boko Haram insurgents, where houses, schools, mosques, churches, farmlands and businesses were destroyed thereby rendering people homeless and jobless.”,

READ ALSO: House of Reps condemns govt’s use of foreign airlines to evacuate stranded Nigerians

Noting that the NEDC, which was set up to ameliorate the sufferings of the people had allegedly been enmeshed in serious corrupt practices by the management, Elumelu listed the supposed corrupt practices to include “high handedness by the managing director Mohammed Goni Alkali, over inflation of contracts, awards of non-existent contracts, massive contract splitting and flagrant disregard for the procurement laws in the award of contracts.”

He decried that “the N100 billion so far disbursed to the commission by the federal government is said to have vanished under a year without any visible impact on the refugees nor any infrastructural development credited to the name of the commission in the whole of the Northeast.”

According to Elumelu, “There are allegations of how the managing director and his close associates diverted funds meant for the commission to the purchasing of choice properties in highbrow neighbourhoods of Abuja, Kaduna and Maiduguri to the detriment of the suffering refugees and infrastructural development.”

He added, “There are allegations of how the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouk, was said to have entered into an unholy deal with the managing director of the commission, to illegally withdraw the sum of N5 billion from the account of the commission to purchase military vehicles without any recourse to the board, an act which completely disregards the country’s procurement laws and must be seriously frowned at.”

The lawmaker said that had been worried that “though the managing director single-handedly procured all coronavirus materials and supplies to the tune of N5 billion without approval from the board, there is said to be another massive corruption scheme on the verge of being implemented in the name of the housing scheme in Maiduguri without the board’s knowledge.”

He, therefore, cautioned that “these consistent abuses of procurement laws, if not put to check, may defeat the purpose for the establishment of the commission, hence the need for an urgent investigation.”

The House, presided over by its Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila adopted the motion and resolved to mandate “the Committees on Finance, Procurement and NEDC to exhaustively investigate these allegations and report back in 8 weeks.”

This is coming while the probe of financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is still ongoing.

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