Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The embattled Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) yesterday failed to honour the invitation extended to it by the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs investigating the alleged illegal sack of some workers of the commission between February and May this year.
The Senator Peter Nwaoboshi-led committee could not proceed with the investigation of the reported sack of senior staff of NDDC due to the absence of the entire IMC members, including the acting Managing Director, Professor Daniel Pondei.
Signs that the IMC members would not appear before the committee emerged at about 12:30 p.m. when none of them was sighted at the room 022 venue of the planned investigative hearing at the Senate wing of the National Assembly.
Even attempt made by the committee to ensure appearance of the IMC members before it two hours after by shifting the sitting to 3:00p.m., failed as none of them appeared at about 3:20 p.m. when the session resumed.
Worried about the development, the committee Chairman, Senator Nwaoboshi, asked NDDC Director of Human Resources, Silas Anyanwu, to explain the absence of the management team.
In his explanation, Anyanwu revealed that Pondei and other IMC members were held back at the House of Representatives wing of the National Assembly where they were being engaged on similar investigation.
According to him, “For the past two hours, I have been communicating with the MD and some other IMC members, but information reaching me indicated that they are not allowed to leave the venue of similar investigation going on in the House of Representatives.”
However, Nwaoboshi punctured Anyawu’s explanation, and reminded him that the sitting was the third attempt to get the IMC members to respond to series of petitions written against them by the sacked workers
He wondered that “even if the MD is held in the House of Representatives, is there no other person from the IMC who has the capacity to represent?”
Although Anyanwu attempted to make presentation on behalf of the absentee MD, he withdrew when he was asked to sign the unsigned written submissions forwarded to the committee by the IMC.
At that point, the committee members quickly resolved that since July 14 is the day fixed for the 2020 budget defence session for the commission, the issue of illegal sacking of staff will be taken as well.
The committee chairman, therefore, submitted that “from the attitude and actions shown so far by the IMC on this investigation, there is no sign of seriousness or interest from them.
“Though because of our respect for our colleagues in the House of Representatives, this sitting will be adjourned till Tuesday which is even the earlier fixed day for the 2020 budget defence session for the commission.
“Before we adjourn, an erroneous impression must be corrected by saying that it is not this committee that petitioned against NDDC but affected staffers who alleged to have been illegally sacked from the service of the commission.
“Petitions on such allegations have been forwarded to us and most of the affected staffers have made their presentations which must be responded to by the IMC.”
The sitting was thereafter adjourned till July 14 by 1.00p.m.