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We Spent ₦1.5bn As COVID-19 Palliatives To Take Care Of Ourselves – NDDC MD, Pondei Says

The acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Kemebradikumo Pondei, has revealed how much was spent as ‘COVID-19 palliatives for staff’ of the Commission.

Speaking during the investigative hearing on the N40 billion corruption allegation against the commission. pondei said that the commission spent N1.5 billion to take care of staff” despite being paid their salaries.  He also explained that part of the fund was for the youth of Niger Delta.

It will be recalled that the Senate had on May 5 set up a seven-man ad-hoc committee to investigate the “financial recklessness” of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the commission.

The lawmakers said, within the last three months, the commission has spent over N40 billion of the commission’s fund ”without recourse to established processes of funds disbursement which has opened up further suspicion among stakeholders of the Niger Delta Region.”

They also faulted the IMC’s ”arbitrary use of executive power in an alleged wrongful sacking of management staff without recourse to established civil service rules and practice with the aim of allegedly concealing the fraudulent financial recklessness they have committed.”

Mr Pondei and other delegates from the commission appeared before the committee on Thursday for the hearing. Part of the audit report read out by the chairman of the committee, Olubunmi Adetunmbi, said N3.1 billion was spent as COVID-19 funds between October 2019 and May 2020.

In the report, the lawmaker said”N10 million was paid to one person, N7 million to two people, N5 million to three people, 148 people took N3 million each, 157 people got N1.5 million each, 497 people got N1 million each and 464 people were paid N600,000 each.”

Another N475 million was given to the police to purchase face masks and hand sanitisers, he added.

He further explained that the IMC inherited debts upon assumption of office ”that needed to be cleared on time.”He said the previous management owed hotels and had unpaid electricity bills of about N26 million.

Meanwhile, the acting deputy director, projects, Cairo Ojougboh, added that the money given to police is for nine states of the Niger Delta region.

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