The Senate has resolved to investigate allegations of corruption levelled by the Niger Delta Development Commission against some lawmakers.
The Senate gave its committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions four weeks to probe the allegations made by the management of the NDDC and the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
This was one of the many resolutions adopted by the lawmakers on Thursday after they considered the report of the ad-hoc committee set up to investigate misappropriation of funds and reckless spending in the NDDC.
The Senate had on May 5 set up a seven-member ad-hoc committee to investigate the “financial recklessness” of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the commission.
The House committee on Niger Delta also commenced a similar investigation.
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.”
In one of the investigative hearings, the acting deputy director, projects, NDDC, Cairo Ojougboh, said the budgets of the commission “have always been hijacked by the leadership of the committee on NDDC from both chambers for their personal gain.”
He asked the National Assembly “to let the commission function in peace.”
“The budget(s) of the NDDC from 2001 till date, has (have) always been hijacked by the two chairmen of the committee; the chairman in the house and the chairman in the Senate,” the angry official said. “Not one kobo has been misused since the coming of the IMC.”
He was challenged by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, to name lawmakers involved in the scandal within 48 hours.
The speaker later threatened to sue the minister for alleged defamation of character.
Mr Akpabio retracted his claim on Thursday saying his reference was not to current lawmakers of the ninth assembly.
Although the lawmakers have embarked on their annual recess, the committees have been mandated to continue their work.
However, presentation and consideration of the report from this investigation cannot be done until the Senate resumes on September 15.
Meanwhile, among other resolutions, the Senate asked the IMC to refund all unjustifiable funds paid to staff of the commission. It also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to dissolve the current IMC and set up a board for the commission.
The lawmakers also said, henceforth, the NDDC will get ‘direct presidential supervision’ in view of the huge funds released to the commission constantly.