The House of Representatives has begun investigation into the alleged diversion of N6.2bn meant for COVID-19 palliatives under the Niger Delta Development Commission at the peak of the pandemic.
The House is also investigating the mismanagement of N139.317bn between 2013 and 2018, as alleged by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
The investigative hearing by the House Committee on Public Accounts was, however, stalled on Wednesday due to non-appearance by the NDDC.
Others who failed to appear before the panel were the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.
A notice sighted by our correspondent read, “The Niger Delta Development Commission is appearing before the Public Accounts Committee on the following issues:
“Special periodic checks on the activities and programmes of Niger Delta Development Commission for the period 1st January 2013 to 30th June 2018.
“Hearing on Auditor-General’s comments on the audited accounts of Niger Delta Development Commission for the years ended 31st December, 2017 and 2018.
“Public hearing on the Auditor-General of the Federation’s special period checks on the activities and programmes of Niger Delta Development Commission for the period 2008 -2012.
“Re-demand for probe/investigation over alleged misappropriation and diversion of N6.2bn NDDC palliatives money and call for suspension of Interim Management Committee from office for free and fair investigation.”
The committee also said NBET was to appear over a report on the special audit monitoring and evaluation of capital projects and programmes by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company for the period covering June 2017 to June 2018.
NIMET was also to appear before the committee in respect of its status enquiry on the financial activities of the agency.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Wole Oke, who announced the absence of the NDDC at the scheduled hearing, resolved to adjourn sitting till Thursday.
The report by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation showed the queries on NDDC’s accounts covering January 1, 2013 to June 30, 2018.
The report said 626 contractors were engaged by the NDDC for the execution of contracts worth a total of N309,172,941,001.86, and received a total sum of N61,468,160,743.03 as mobilization fees.
The Auditor General of the Federation, Mr Anthony Ayine, asked that the sum of N61,468,160,743.03 be recovered from the 626 contractors in line with Financial Regulation No. 3104, which provides that under “no circumstances should payments be made for job not executed and any amount involved shall be recovered from the said contractor and shall be blacklisted and referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for prosecution.”
On the N100b spent on emergency contracts in 2018, the office also observed that the commission “concentrated most of its efforts on the award of emergency contract in the period under review while most of the planned/budget and ongoing projects are not given needed priority.”
A breakdown of the emergency contracts awarded showed that N58.137bn was spent in 2017; N20.867bn spent in 2016, while N1.689bn spent in 2015, respectively.