A civil society group, Act for Positive Transformation, has faulted the reason given by the Niger Delta Development Commission on why it could not make payments to students on scholaship abroad.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last week following public outcry ordered the NDDC to immediately pay the fees and stipends of the students, who have been facing hardship abroad.
The commission was reported to have said that the students had not been paid because the agency could not make payments from its domiciliary account without an Executive Director Finance and Administration.
The group in a letter addressed to President Buhari and signed by its Head, Directorate of Research and Programme, Kolawole Johnson, said that it had taken time and resources to investigate happenings at the commission, uncovering several corrupt practices ranging from contracts scams, outright embezzlement and and extra-budgetary spending.
It said that while such discoveries have since been turned over to relevant government agencies with the public expecting actions from the President, recent public statement by the IMC claiming that it couldn’t pay scholarship sums to foreign scholars due to the death of the late executive director finance and account was not nothing but outright falsehood.
The group decribed the reason adduced as a lie to perpetuate illegal, fraudulent and corrupt Interim Management Committee of the commission.
It said, “While Nigerians await your action on the damning revelations against the management of the commission and Godswill Akpabio, the supervising minister, the commission released a statement yesterday on your directives for the prompt payment of scholars in foreign countries in the wake of protests in foreign embassies. The statement claimed the reason given to Your Excellency for the delay in payment of the scholars was the death of the late Executive Director, Finance and Administration (EDFA) and as such could not make payments. Your Excellency, this is an outright falsehood and the height of deception.
“The late EDFA died on May 28th, 2020, by July 28th 2020, exactly two months after, the management has squandered a total of N24.26bn. The commission has continued to make all manner of fraudulent payments without prioritizing the demand of the foreign scholars or recourse to due process. Under the guise of emergency payments, the management paid out over N3.5bn within this period. The fraudulent emergency payments include; AHR LTD (622,849,805.33 – June 10), REZIKANA NIG LTD (527,099,556.20 – June 19, 2020), Escobar Steel LTD (580,864,726.71 – June 19, 2020), Vintage Consolidated Ltd (441,709,717.62 – June 19, 2020), REZIKANA NIG LTD (396,747,278.69 – June 24, 2020), Julidata Enterprises (165,580,069.45 – July 03, 2020).
“After the death of the late EDFA, additional fraudulent payments have been made to companies that were actively involved in cases of contract scams investigated. For example, Julius Dinga, the engineering company that got the fraudulent media consultancy contract for covid-19 awareness, has received over N400m within same period the management refused to pay the scholars (216,388,449.44 – June 19 and 185,475,813.81 – July 09). Ditto to Osmoserve and AHR Global, they have received over 1.3 Billion in fraudulent payments despite the allegation of contract scam substantiated against them. RODNAP, the company that allegedly has links, with Sen Akpabio, also got payment (612,500,000.00) within the period in focus. Note sir, same person own RODNAP & AHR Global, the two companies have enjoyed unusual patronage from the present management."
The group further stressed that the present NDDC IMC is not only aversed to the development of the region and its people, it, in addition, disobeyed and deceived the President at will by flouting his instructions, “embarrass the nation, disregard laws and due process and above all, very corrupt”.
It added, “Your Excellency, the excuse given for embarrassing the nation before the international communities for non-payment of fees of the foreign scholars amounts to grand deception. From the details above, it is obvious the management has never stopped paying for what satisfies their greed, even without an EDFA and a budget. The scholars were not paid because it will be impossible to benefit directly from the payment since their earlier malfeasance in this regard was exposed to the public.”