No amount of distraction will stop NDDC IMC probe – Lawan

The Senate has slammed stakeholders linking it to financial mismanagement in Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over its move to probe the N40billion expended by Interim Management Committee ( IMC) of the Commission within the first three months of 2020.

This follows a fresh request for extension of time made by the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, mandated to carry out the investigation, Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi (APC Ekiti North).

Coming through order 43 of the Senate standing rule Adetumbi complained that perhaps due to COVID-19 pandemic and attendant lockdowns, many of the Stakeholders invited by the committee did not respond on time but gradually indicating the interest of honouring invitations sent to them.

“I’m glad to inform you that just a few days ago, we started receiving the responses from these stakeholders that will provide information to the committee. Just a few days ago, the responses of these stakeholders started to come in for the first time last week. “This week we will receive as much information that the committee will need to do its work.”

He requested the Senate to grant the Committee an additional six weeks to carry out the Investigation.

“For this reason, I will like to seek the indulgence of the senate for an extension of time to enable us to receive all the information and documents that we need for the committee to be able to do a thorough job that has been given to us.”
But in ruling on the request, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said six weeks was too long by cutting it to four weeks.

Lawan after putting the request to voice votes and voted for by virtually all the Senators made remarks bordering on admonition for those he described as detractors, Guardian reports.

He said: “We wish the Committee a very successful exercise and urged it to remain the focus as far as the planned investigation on finances of NDDC under the Interim Management Committee ( IMC), is concerned.

“The move by the Senate in this direction has generated a lot of controversies driven by vested interests.

” So many side attractions, detractions and disruptions pro or against the planned investigation are being carried out by people or groups of people.

” Part of the distractions are series of write-ups in the media by the vested groups almost on daily basis but unfortunately, all these cannot stop the Senate from forging ahead with an assignment backed by resolution and firmly within the ambit of its constitutional responsibilities.

” So, in their own interest, the earlier they stop the distractions the better because our committee will forge ahead with the assignment “.

Recalled that parts of the distractions trailing the planned investigation exercise were an allegation of witch Hunt levelled against the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly by the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Kemebradikumo Pondei that the move was allegedly made to frustrate the ongoing forensic auditing being carried out there by the Presidency.

An allegation that did not go down well with the Senate and some federal lawmakers individually attacked.

The allegations and counter-allegations worsened with approaches taken by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi ( PDP Delta North).

Both had in the past weeks, being attacking each other through proxies.

While Nwaoboshi through documents given to journalists, alleged that Akpabio collected contracts worth N500million from NDDC in 2017 without executing them despite receiving full payment, Akpabio on the other hand, fired back through the IMC by alleging that Nwaoboshi collected N3.6billion worth of contracts from the commission in 2016 without execution.