By Debbie Benjamin
The Senate has through its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition summoned the immediate past Managing Director of the dissolved Interim Management Committee (IMC), Prof. Daniel Pondei and his board members to appear before it to provide explanations on how N6.25 billion was spent on COVID-19 Palliatives.
This is just as Senators from Niger-Delta have denied knowledge of how N6.25 billion Covid-19 Palliative released by the Federal Government through its Presidential Palliative Distribution Committee for Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was disbursed in the region
The summon followed a petition by former Chairman, NDDC Covid-19 Palliative Committee, Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, alleging misappropriation and diversion of the palliative funds.
The petition also seeks among other things the return of all monies received by the IMC from the Federal Government; including remittances from the International Oil Companies (IOCs) back into government coffer.
Jackrich in his shocking petition revealed that as the Chairman of the Presidential Committee, he was completely sidelined as the IMC hijacked the process to perpetrate the fraud after he insisted on transparency and that due process must be followed.
“As Chairman of the Covid-19 Palliative Distribution Committee of the NDDC, I testify that N6.25 billion approved by Mr. President for palliatives for the Niger-Delta through the NDDC cannot be accounted for and is allegedly embezzled by Professor Daniel Pondei- led IMC”.
He said to cover up their deceit, the IMC staged managed the distribution of a few expired food items and old medical equipment from NDDC warehouse to deceive the unsuspecting members of the public and mislead the President.
It is the fourth of such summons by the Senate panel inviting the top executives of the NDDC to appear before it without success as NDDC officials failed to appear again on Thursday, 4th February, 2021 after failing to appear in all previous hearings.
Speaking with Journalists; the Chairman of the Senate Committee, Ayo Akinyelure accused NDDC of scheming to dodge Senate investigation into the matter.
He said as a Senator from one of the nine the Niger-Delta States (from Ondo State), he and his colleagues have no knowledge of how the said N6.25 billion Covid-19 Palliative funds were disbursed in the region.
The Senate Panel shifted further hearing on the matter to the 22nd of February; issuing its last warning to Pondei and his associates to appear before it or face the full wrath of the law.