The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on Monday issued a warrant of arrest on the interim administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Effiong Akwa, for repeatedly ignoring the committee’s invitation.
The committee had invited Akwa to come and explain to the lawmakers the N6.25 billion expended by the commission on COVID-19 palliatives.
In view of the huge amount involved, the committee had penultimate week issued an ultimatum to the NDDC boss to appear before it on Monday unfailingly, having failed to honour four earlier invitations.
Angered by Akwa’s non-appearance before the committee, Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo Central), its chairman, said the committee would be in touch with the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to bring the NDDC boss before the committee unfailingly on the 9th of March.
“Having invited the head of the NDDC four times now without honouring the invitations, this committee has no option than to invoke the relevant section of the constitution for warrant of arrest on whoever is the boss of the agency now,” Akinyelure said.
“The petition against the agency by an insider on alleged squandering of N6.25bn on palliatives against COVID-19 last year is grave and weighty to be ignored.
“To this end, required constitutional procedures and processes will be followed by this committee in ensuring that the Inspector-General of Police bring before it the NDDC boss on March 9, 2021 when the next sitting will hold,” he said.
Recall that under the recently sacked Daniel Pondei-led Interim Management Committee (IMC), the commission had claimed to have spent N6.25bn on COVID-19 palliatives last year across the nine oil producing states.
But in a petition forwarded to the Senate committee chairman, Sobomabo Jackrich, the chairman of the agency’s COVID-19 Palliative Distribution Committee said not a dime was spent for such purpose by the then IMC of the commission.
“As chairman of the COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee of the NDDC, I testify that N6.25bn approved by Mr. President for Palliatives for the entire Niger Delta Region through the NDDC cannot be accounted for and is allegedly embezzled by the then Prof Daniel Pondei-led IMC,” Jackrich said in the petition.
“My committee was totally sidelined and the IMC hijacked the process because of their secret plots just because I, as the chairman, demanded for transparency in the entire process.
“The then IMC conspired among themselves and distributed strange substances in the name of palliatives in the form of spoilt food items to a few communities in the region.
“To cover up for the fraud, they tried without success to bribe me with a few bags of rice and beans just to induce me to play along with them,” he claimed.