NDDC Paid N3.9bn For Non-existent Projects – Senate
The Senate Committee on Niger Delta has revealed its discovery that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) paid a whooping N3.9 billion for a non-existent contract in Ondo State.
The committee, which is currently on its oversight function of NDDC projects in the Niger Delta region, said it also discovered that, in Bayelsa, projects worth over N10.8 billion, whose contracts were awarded and the said money paid, were not executed; rather, people handling them just abandoned them.
And determined to uncover the sleaze as well as other fraudulent deals carried out between the NDDC and some fake contractors, the Senate said it would conduct a holistic investigation of the commission’s activities from the year 2000 till date.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, who gave the hint in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital yesterday, lamented that N3.9billion was paid for a non-existent project said to be ongoing in Ondo State.
Nwaoboshi said his committee also discovered that the NDDC released other several billions of naira to non-existent contractors for some unidentifiable projects across other states of the region.
According to him, through private investigation, the lawmakers further discovered that other startlingly huge sums of money were released by the commission for fake projects, fuming that NDDC had hid the projects and the amounts from the documents submitted before his committee during the 2016 budget defence.
He called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest and prosecute those found culpable in the contract scam, and to ensure that all the monies running into several billions of naira allegedly stolen from the commission since inception are recovered.
Nwaoboshi, while accusing the NDDC of embarking on “nasty projects” that were not useful to the people, recommended that a thorough probe of the contracts must be carried out without delay.
He said the committee had already engaged the services of consultants and external auditors, including chartered accountants to probe the accounts of the NDDC, beginning from 2000.
“There is a certain project where they (NDDC) had paid N3.9 billion, in Ondo State and nothing has been done. And when they were making their reports, they did not include some of those projects paid, and for which were never executed at all. We discovered that on our own through personal investigation, and the NDDC has admitted it – that they paid the amount,” he said.
“In Bayelsa alone, the projects where they awarded and paid money and people handling them did not execute and rather abandoned are worth over N10.8 billion.
“This one is based on the document they have given to us. So, when we went through the document state by state, we were able to see where they had paid money; the least was in Edo State where N950 million abandoned project was seen.
“We have said that a holistic investigation of the commission from the 2000 will start soon. The question is, nobody is here to witch- hunt anybody. For the projects that are completed, we will give our recommendations and even recommend them for further jobs from the NDDC. I think we have only seen two completed jobs so far since we came here; all others are abandoned ones.”
He further declared that the committee would launch an investigation into the multi-billion naira anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs purchased by the commission without subsequent distribution to the beneficiaries until they were found to have expired.
Nwaoboshi said, “Of course, we are going to look into that (expired ARV drugs). That is the wasting of public fund. You complain that there is no money, yet you embark on some nasty projects only to satisfy your personal interest and ego.
“We are going to carry out a holistic investigation; we are going to investigate the accounts of the NDDC now. We have employed consultants to look into their books. If they don’t refund the money, when we are writing our report, we will make our recommendations to the Senate and the Senate will consider those recommendations and approve them.
“And if there are some people who are culpable in what have happened, the Senate would refer their findings to the appropriate authorities to take immediate action.”
The senator called on his colleagues in the upper chamber of the National Assembly to cooperate with one another so that the bill seeking to make the resolutions of the National Assembly mandatory is passed into law in order to make it easier for issues bordering on projects to be handled.
Nwaoboshi said, “Definitely, we are going to amend most of the laws, including some of the acts. There’s a bill on ground which has already passed first reading, to make resolutions of the Senate mandatory.
“All I can assure you is that we are not only going to get to the contractors, we are going to unveil the people behind the companies and find out those behind the contracts not completed.
“Nobody is taking any job and not completing it. You can give your job to your boyfriend, to your girlfriend, to your wife and to your husband – that is not our point.
“What matters to us is, does the person have the capacity? Has the person performed? We are not interested in who is getting the job. I don’t care about that. If you are given a job, you do it but where you think that you are too big, then don’t take jobs. If I tell you some of the companies that we have lifted their veils now, and when you see the people behind these companies, you would laugh, you will shake.
“And if you see also some of these people who are talking, for example, how can a board say somebody did a nasty job and you have paid the person 100 per cent of the job?
“If the person did a nasty job and you are convinced that he did a nasty job, why pay him 100 per cent and even five per cent of his retention? Retention – which is supposed to come after a period of time after you have come to inspect the job to make sure the project completion is still within the agreed period of completion – has been paid! Who is deceiving who here? There is connivance.
“I have already said it – that we have consultants. Our consultants are a firm of both auditors and chartered accountants. They are going to enter their books now, to see what and what had happened.”