Chief Sobomabo Jackrich

Fresh allegations of massive corruption and fraud to the tune of N6.2 billion have been unearthed by the Chairman of the Palliative Distribution Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Sobomabo Jackrich.

Chief Jackrich has therefore accused the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of misappropriating and diverting N6.2 billion meant for palliatives among the commission’s nine-member states.

Jackrich in a 12 – paragraph petition dated August 3, 2020, sent to the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila stressed that the N6.2billion scam is different from N1.5 billion relief funds shared to over 4,000 workers of the commission and high command of the Nigeria Police Force by IMC in April this year.

According to the petitioner, the N6.2billion was specifically approved by President Muhammadu Buhari also in April for the procurement and distribution of palliatives to residents of the nine states covered by the commission.

“Today, all of that can be regrettably described as a show of shame and a scam. The N6,250,000,000.00 that was magnanimously approved by Mr. President to help the poor and indigents of the Niger Delta during this difficult period of the pandemic as palliatives has curiously been allegedly misappropriated and embezzled by the IMC of the NDDC and their co-conspirators.

“As the Chairman of the Palliatives Distribution Committee, my findings are not only that the money cannot be accounted for, but there is nothing on ground to show that N6.2 billion of our hard-earned taxpayers’ money was invested for its original purpose, which the President approved.

“The materials and supplies, according to the statement were to be done through emergency procurement method as provided in Sections 42(b) (c) and 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007,” he further said.

Jackrich in the petition titled:” Demand for Investigation over alleged misappropriation and diversion of N6.2billion NDDC Palliatives Money,” alleged further that the Prof. Pondei-led IMC, by-passed him as Chairman of the Palliatives Distribution Committee when the money was to be spent.

He alleged that rather than using the money for the purposes for which it was meant, the IMC only stage-managed the distribution of items not worth a million naira.

Jackrich, therefore called for the dissolution of the IMC by President Muhammadu Buhari so as to pave way for thorough financial reform of the commission and allowing the motive behind the ongoing forensic auditing, to see the light of the day.

“ As the Chairman of the Palliatives Distribution Committee, I cannot account for the palliatives as my committee was sidelined just because I was the Chairman demanded Accountability and Transparency in the processes as well as value for money with respect to the palliatives.

“That I was handed the template for the distribution of the palliatives wherein it was indicated that nine trucks of food items will be distributed to each of the nine states in the region.

“However, the IMC hijacked the entire process. They called and handed me with few bags of rice and beans just to induce me to play along with them giving a false impression that the process was successful.

“This appears to me as a cover-up plot. Most of the food items that they claimed to have distributed were spoilt and unhealthy for human consumption.

“Thus only the IMC can tell where they got those poisonous and rotten food items from. The next thing we heard surprisingly, is that the palliatives have been distributed. I managed to monitor from a distance the charade and show-off since I and my committee were stripped of our assignments by the IMC in the distribution processes and left us incommunicado.

“As chairman of the Palliatives Distribution Committee, I am aware that what was distributed under the guise of medical equipment were old goods and wares in the commission’s warehouses, which was put on camera just to deceive the unsuspecting public and mislead the president.

“This too was staged. No single kits or COVID-19 Test Centres were set up by the commission in the nine Niger Delta states to date. It is for the records that I state these facts. The money for Palliatives approved by Mr. President was allegedly corruptly diverted by the IMC in concert with identifiable powerful forces and so cannot be accounted for.

“Surprisingly again, at their corrupt leisure and malevolent unbridled appetite, the Managing Director openly on camera admitted to some disturbing embezzlement of unbudgeted funds in the commission during this pandemic. Responding to questions at the National Assembly regarding the COVID-19 Relief Fund paid to NDDC staff the MD said “only N1.3 billion was used to take care of staff” despite being paid their salaries.

“There have been several barefaced embezzlements of billions of naira from the commission that was originally established to help the people of the region but to no avail.

Acting M D Prof. Pondei of NDDC

“There have been records of scam contracts supervised by the IMC. Unfortunately, they have procured some dubious Non-Governmental Organizations NGOs to defend and cover up their malfeasances and give them a clean bill through procured reports and presentations during the course of ongoing investigations.

“The media has been awash for some days now with respect to sweeping allegations and counter-allegations against the IMC over alleged corrupt embezzlement of billions of Naira from the NDDC through countless fronts. These stories further show the level of deep-seated corruption going on in the commission against the impoverished peoples of the Niger Delta.

“The National Assembly should probe and investigate the IMC under Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei with a view to make them account for the N6.2 billion approved by the President for palliatives in the Niger Delta during the pandemic”.