Senate Challenges NDDC to Prove N10.8bn Payment to Lawmakers

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Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Senate has challenged the Executive Director in charge of Projects at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, to provide evidence to back his allegation that the commission gave between N15 million and N20 million, totalling about N10.8 billion, as palliatives to members of the National Assembly.

It said if Ojougboh failed to prove the allegation, he should retract his statement and apologise to the lawmakers.
NDDC director had listed senators and members of the House of Representatives as beneficiaries of the COVID-19 palliative from NDDC.
“In the National Assembly, each of the senators got N20 million, while the House of Representatives members got N15 million for the COVID-19 from NDDC,” Ojougboh said.

But Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, in a statement asked Ojougboh to provide evidence to back up his claim.
He denied the allegation that members of both chambers of the National Assembly received cash as the COVID-19 palliative from the commission.

He, therefore, challenged Ojougboh to provide the names of lawmakers who were beneficiaries or retract his statement and apologise to the National Assembly.

He said: “The Senate views with grave concern a statement credited to Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, the Executive Director, Projects of the NDDC, who alleged that National Assembly members received varying sums of money as COVID-19 palliative. The Senate hereby disclaims the allegation in its entirety.

“The Senate categorically denies that any senator collected the sum of N20 million or any sum whatsoever from NDDC as a COVID-19 relief fund for any purpose whatsoever.
“The Senate challenges Dr. Ojougboh to publicly provide evidence of his claim and list the names of the senators he allegedly gave the alleged sum.

“Failure to provide evidence of his claim, the Senate hereby demands an immediate retraction and public apology from Dr. Cairo Ojougboh.”