The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has been accused of spending a whopping N641, 417, 925 and another N39.4 million on image laundering.
According to Transparency and Accountability Advancement Group, in a statement by Comrade Godknows Sotonye,National Coordinator, NDDC account records with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation show that on May 22, 2020, the sum of N641, 417, 925 was paid into a Zenith Bank account of a communications consultancy company.
The record showed the payment was for “media and communications support for forensic audit exercise.”The group said such payment was an indication that some people at the Ministry of Nigerian Delta Affairs and the NDDC are using the forensic audit to siphon money.
This will be the first time officials of a government agency or any company for that matter will withdraw N641 million as ‘media support’ supposedly to publicise an audit! The forensic audit has now become the excuse for forensic looting.”Saying that audits are carried out by independent auditors appointed to undertake them without additional costs, the group emphasised: “An audit is not a media exercise.
The group also alleged that the NDDC IMC on May 19, 2020 paid N39.4 million for “consultancy on rebuttal of media attacks against HMDA, IMC and NDDC” to the same communications consultancy company, adding: “These expenditures are crazy and provide a glimpse into the very terrible sleaze going on at the NDDC.”It lamented that at a time Niger Delta people are looking for potable water, interventions in roads, schools and employment, over N641 million is spent to launder public image.
“Nothing can be more callous from a bunch who have consistently claimed that they have supposedly come to clean the augean stable,” the group said.The group said such spending on media campaign was a clear vindication that all is not well in the NDDC, while urging the Natiobal Assembly to act fast.
“The National Assembly has a sacred duty to defend the constitution of Nigeria, including its laws. We urge the Senate and the House of Representatives to be firm on the probe of the IMC as these and more revelations of crass opportunistic stealing will come to light. More importantly, the National Assembly should not abdicate its duty to defend the laws of the nation,” it said.
The group urged President Muhammadu Buhari to disband the IMC before “it becomes a totem to corruption under his watch and put in place the Board in line with the provisions of the NDDC Act of 2000.”