The House of Representatives has mandated its Committees on, Finance, Procurement and NEDC to investigate an allegation of misappropriation of N100 billion at the North East Development Commision (NEDC).
The lawmakers took the decision on Thursday while adopting a motion brought under matters of urgent national importance by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu.
The call for the investigation of the NEDC is coming as the house concluded an investigation into alleged financial recklessness at its sister agency, the Niger Delta Development Commision (NDDC).
NEDC was established in 2017, after the bill establishing the commission was passed by the two legislative chambers. On October 25, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the bill and signed it into an Act.
The core mandate of NEDC, “among other things”, is to “receive and manage funds from allocation of the Federal Account, international donors for the settlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads, houses and business premises of victims of insurgency as well as tackling menace of poverty, illiteracy level, ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the North-East states.”
The Act establishing the commission provides for a Governing Body, comprising a Chairman, a Managing Director and Chief Executive; three Executive Directors (one from each member state not being represented by the Chairman of the Board, the Managing Director and the representative of the North-East zone), one person each to represent the six geo-political zones of Nigeria; and one person to represent the Federal Ministry of Finance; and Budget and National Planning.
Moving the motion during plenary, Mr Elumelu alleged that corrupt practices in the agency include high handedness by the managing director, Mohammed Alkali, inflation of contracts, awards of non existent contracts, massive contract splitting and flagrant disregard for the procurement laws in the award of contracts.
“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.”
He said the managing director and his close associates were alleged to have diverted funds from the commission to buy choice properties in highbrow neighborhoods of Abuja, Kaduna and Maiduguri.
“There are allegations of how the minister of Humanitarian affairs and disaster management, Sadiya 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.
“Disturbed that though the managing director single-handedly procured all Corona virus materials and supplies to the tune of N5 billion without an approval from the board, there is said to be another massive corruption scheme on the verge of being implemented in the name of housing scheme in Maiduguri without the board’s knowledge.”
He said the consistent abuse 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 NEDC bill was signed into law in October 2017 by President Buhari to replace other initiatives such as the Presidential Initiative on Northeast (PINE) and Victims Support Fund (VSF) and the board of management inaugurated in may 2019.
There has been massive displacement of people in the Northeast as a result of the activities of Boko Haram insurgents, where houses, schools, mosques, churches , farmlands and businesses were destroyed and people rendered homeless and jobless.