By Adedayo Akinwale
The House of Representatives has ordered investigation into the alleged misappropriation of N100 billion at the North East Development Commission (NEDC).
The Green Chamber ordered the investigation following the adoption of a motion moved by the Minority Leader, Hon.Ndudi Elumelu, at the plenary on Thursday.
Moving the motion, he said NEDC bill was signed into law in October 2017 by President Muhammadu 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.
Elumelu said the commission was established with the aim of coordinating funds accruing from the federation account and donor agencies for the purposes of rehabilitating and resettling of victims of insurgency, reconstruction of homes, infrastructural development and tackling of illiteracy in the Northeastern part of the country.
The minority leader said there had been massive displacement of Nigerian citizens in the Northeast as a result of the activities of Boko Haram insurgents, where houses, schools, mosques, churches , farmlands and businesses were destroyed thereby rendering people homeless and jobless.
Elumelu said it was against this background that NEDC was set up to ameliorate the sufferings of the people, but was alleged to be enmeshed in serious corrupt practices by the management .
He said, “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.
“The corrupt practices includes high handedness by the Managing Director, Mohammed Goni Alkali, over inflation of contracts, awards of non existent contracts, massive contract splitting and flagrant disregard for the procurement laws in the award of contracts.”
“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.”
Elumelu noted that though the managing director single handedly procured all Coronavirus materials and supplies to the tune of N5 billion without an approval from the board, there was another alleged massive corruption scheme on the verge of being implemented in the name of ‘housing scheme in Maiduguri’ without the board’s knowledge.
The minority leader noted that there are allegations of how the managing director and his close associates allegedly diverted funds meant for the commission to purchasing of choice properties in highbrow neighborhoods of Abuja, Kaduna and Maiduguri to the detriment of the suffering refugees and infrastructural development.
The lawmaker therefore expressed worry over consistent abuse of procurement laws, adding that if not put to check might defeat the purpose for the establishment of the commission, hence, the need for an urgent investigation.
The House mandated its Committees on Finance, Procurement and NEDC to exhaustively investigate these allegations and report back in eight weeks.