Fresh revelations emanating from the ongoing probe into the affairs of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission indicates that the committee diverted a ₦6.25billion approved by the Presidency for indigenes of the Niger Delta region.
This was disclosed by the Chairman of the Palliative Distribution Committee (PDC) , High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich.
Jackrich, had in a petition, pleaded with the National Assembly to investigate his claim in a bid to compel the Prof. Keme Pondei-led IMC to account for the money.
Jackrich also alleged that the IMC deliberately refused to pay security contracts, further causing the security of the region to be compromised and fueling tension among the youth.
Copies of the petition were sent to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and all the relevant committees of the National Assembly.
Jackrich recalled that at the inauguration of the palliative committee, the President made it clear that the N6.25bn should be used to uplift the indigent and the poor in the Niger Delta.
He stated that the palliative distribution was officially flagged off in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, but lamented that “today, all of that can be regrettably described as a show of shame and a scam.”
The PDC chairman claimed that the IMC staged-managed a camera-party where it distributed some food items to an “insignificant number of persons in the Niger Delta to falsely give the impression that the palliatives had been distributed.”
The petition reads in part: “The N6.25 billion that was magnanimously approved by Mr. President to help the poor and indigent of the Niger Delta during this difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic as palliatives has curiously been allegedly misappropriated and embezzled by the IMC of the NDDC and its co-conspirators.
“As the chairman of the Palliatives Distribution Committee, my findings is not only that the money cannot be accounted for, but there is nothing on the ground to show that N6.25billion of our hard-earned tax payers money was invested for its original purpose which the President approved. The materials and supplies were to be done through Emergency Procurement method as provided in Sections 42(b) (c) and 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
“Whereas the palliatives were meant for the indigent and poor, curiously, just a handful of food items though staged-managed, was provided and distributed to an insignificant number of persons in the Niger Delta states under a camera-party just to falsely give the impression that the palliatives have been distributed.
“Some of the food items were politically shared among the IMC choice areas, including a few states of choice which aligned with them politically to undermine the original essence of the Palliatives by President Buhari which was approved with tax payers monies.
“As the chairman of the PDC, I cannot account for the palliatives as my committee was sidelined just because I, as the chairman, demanded for accountability and transparency in the processes as well as value for money with respect to the palliatives.”
Jackrich said the template handed over to him indicated that nine trucks of food items would be distributed to each of the nine states in the region but lamented that the IMC hijacked the entire process.
He added: ”They called and handed me with few bags of rice and beans just to induce me to play along with them giving the false impression that the process was successful. This appears to me as a cover-up plot. Most of the foods items that they claimed to have distributed were spoilt and unhealthy for human consumption.
“Thus only the IMC can tell where they got those poisonous and rotten food items from. The next thing we heard surprisingly, was that the palliatives had been distributed. I managed to monitor from a distance the charade and show-off since I and my committee were stripped of our assignments by the IMC in the distribution processes and left us incommunicado. All needed logistics that my committee was supposed to work with were denied us”
In the petition, Jackrich also said the NDDC distributed old goods and wares as medical equipment in its warehouse to mislead the President.
“No single kit or COVID-19 test centres was set up by the commission in the Nine Niger Delta states till date. It is for the records that I state these facts. The money for palliatives approved by Mr. President was corruptly diverted by the IMC in concert with identifiable powerful forces and so cannot be accounted for,” he said.
Jackrich appealed to the National Assembly to mandate the IMC to render an account on the procurement of the foodstuffs, medical equipment and their distribution in the nine Niger Delta states.
He said: “They should show material evidence of compliance with the relevant Sections of the Public Procurement Act, 2007. They should show proof of procurement and utility of the necessary foodstuffs medical equipment and distribution of same to the Niger Delta states by the PDC headed by me.
“The IMC and any other public office holder(s) no matter how highly placed as long as this probe is concerned should be made to step aside or be suspended from office… so as not to interfere in the ongoing investigations in the NDDC.”