N6.2bn COVID-19 Palliatives: Senate to Issue Warrant for NDDC Sole Administrator’s Arrest

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* Probes alleged missing N27bn PHCN workers’ pension

By Deji Elumoye

The Senate on Monday resolved to issue a warrant for the arrest of the Sole Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Effiong Akwa, over his refusal to appear before it in relation to an alleged mismanagement of N6.2 billion on COVID-19 palliatives by the agency’s management last year.

The upper legislative chamber is also probing the reported missing N27 billion pension funds of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) workers.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, who spoke at the public hearing of the committee, stated that the committee had resolved that a warrant of arrest be issued to compel the Sole Administrator of the NDDC to appear before it.

He frowned on Akwa’s failure to appear before it to respond to an allegation that the commission diverted N6.28 billion meant to procure COVID-19 palliatives approved by President Muhammadu Buhari for the Niger Delta region.

The committee had summoned the NDDC four times after a petition submitted to it by the Chairman of the COVID-19 Palliative Distribution Committee of the NDDC, Chief Sobomavo Jackrich, alleging that the then Interim Management Committee of NDDC mismanaged the N6.28 billion earmarked by the federal government for the people of the region.

Speaking to newsmen after the hearing, the petitioner, Mr. Jackrich Sobomabo, stated how much efforts and resources he had invested to coordinate the palliative before the NDDC management allegedly misappropriated the funds.

He said: “I was appointed the palliative chairman, but when the sum of N6.2 billion was released by the federal government, the NDDC management spent the fund without my knowing.”

Also on Monday, the committee resolved to investigate the alleged missing N27 billion which was meant for the payment of former workers of the defunct PHCN.

It, therefore, directed the National Association of Disengaged Staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria to provide further documents to substantiate its allegations to facilitate the investigation.

The Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) had written to disown the private company which it allegedly was hired to pay the money to the ex-workers.

Emmanuel Okere, who represented the former PHCN workers, had told the committee that he had tried to meet the BPE many times to discuss the issue, adding that the BPE refused to create the opportunity for it.

He pleaded with the committee to use its powers to prevail on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to avail it with some documents relating to the alleged missing N27 billion.

He said: “This panel can accomplish more results if you write to the EFCC . I believe that the Senate committee cannot be helpless in getting the document because if that happens, the fate of the poor ex-workers is best imagined.”

The association had informed the Senate committee that it discovered the existence of some hidden monies meant for the payment of their pension.