The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has commenced an investigation into various allegations of corruption and misappropriation of COVID-19 funds in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Spokesperson of the ICPC, Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, disclosed in a statement on Saturday that some top directors and staff of the agency have been quizzed after months of intelligence gathering.
According to the ICPC spokesperson, top officials are being interrogated in the alleged diversion of N5.47 billion meant for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers handling the Covid-19 pandemic in the nine states of NDDC.
“The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has quizzed top management staff of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), over allegations of various acts of corruption such as diversion of funds, procurement fraud and misappropriation of the agency’s Covid-19 funds.
“Some directors of NDDC were interrogated at the Commission’s headquarters recently, after months of intelligence gathering, following the receipt of petitions from Nigerians on the alleged illegalities and contracts fraud by some officials of the agency,” it added.
“Top officials of the agency are being investigated for their complicity in an alleged diversion of N5.474 billion meant for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers handling the Covid-19 pandemic in the nine states of NDDC,” the statement read in part.
Mrs Ogugua said that the commission is also investigating the payment of monies for some staff training abroad, which was never attended due to the global lockdown measures enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“The Commission is also investigating the payments of millions of naira to the staff of the agency for foreign training during the Covid-19 full lockdown which were never attended, as well as the non-payment of entitlements to students on foreign scholarships.
“Other allegations being investigated by ICPC include the selling of back-dated contract award letters for projects and awards of contracts that were not captured in the budget of the NDDC,” she stated.
The ICPC spokesperson added that the Commission has retrieved relevant documents that will help in uncovering the truth, recover diverted funds and prosecute anyone found to have breached the law.
The NDDC Saga
The NDDC has been a subject of controversy in the last few months over allegations of corruption in the award of contracts and the non-payment of Nigerian scholars under the payroll of the commission.
This prompted the National Assembly to invite the Minister of Niger Delta, Mr Godwill Akpabio, and the former Interim Management Committee head, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei.
Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council approved N722.3 million for eight field forensic auditors to audit the NDDC in a bid to unravel the level of corruption in the agency in charge of the development of the Niger Delta region.