By Deji Elumoye
The Senate yesterday summoned the governors of the nine oil-producing states to appear before it to state what they know about the N6.25 billion allegedly spent on COVID-19 palliatives by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2020.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, who made this known yesterday, during the committee’s sitting, said there is the urgent need for the governors to come and state what they know about the N100 million NDDC claimed to have given to each of the states as COVID-19 pandemic palliatives last year.
He explained that all the 27 senators from the nine oil producing states when asked claimed ignorance of any palliatives being given to their states “hence the need for the governors or their commissioners to come forward and put the records straight”.
Akinyelure said: “We want to know how many governors pocketed these palliative funds. We are aware that over N100million each was given to each state government. That was contained in their verbal submission. We want them to put it in writing. When was this money delivered? How many vehicles were delivered to the governors?
“We would now call the governors to come and account for it because none of the 27 senators from the Niger Delta region is aware of the COVID-19 palliative shared to the governors by the NDDC.
“None of our constituents also benefitted.
“The Senate has the right to call for any investigation when the interest of the public is at stake. If the funds and items were actually delivered to the governors, we will call them to come and account “The state governors might not appear in person but we would expect them to send their commissioners in charge to come and brief us on the issue. We will also ask the governors why they failed to explain to the National Assembly. We will demand details of the disbursement.”
The committee chairman stressed that the earlier warrant of arrest issued on the former interim management of the agency, led by Professor Daniel Pondei still subsists saying “we have already gone through the process of warrant of arrest and we have reached 95 per cent stage of completion.
Akinyelure further said: “However, for the avoidance of doubt, immediately the warrant of arrest was issued, representatives of the sole administrator came to my office and verbally explained how the money was spent. They claimed that N100million each was given to the nine state governors in the Niger Delta region. We now asked them to make written submission on their claims to reach us before March 15 which was Monday but up till today, (Tuesday) we have not seen anything”.