By Ebi Perekeme
A fresh petition has been issued to the National Assembly to raise another panel to investigate alleged misappropriation of N6.2 billion palliatives for residents of the Niger Delta during the coronavirus pandemic.
GbaramatuVoice gathered that the palliative was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari to cushioned the effect of the pandemic on residents of the region.
The COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chairman, Sobomabo Jackrich, made the petition to the committees on privilege and ethics of both chambers of the National Assembly.
He alleged that the money was corruptly diverted by the Interim Management Committee (IMC), in connivance with “identifiable powerful forces and so cannot be accounted for.”
Jackrich, who noted that the palliative distribution was officially kicked off in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said: “Today, all of that can be regrettably described as a show of shame and a scam. The N6.2billion 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.”
He urged the National Assembly to probe the IMC under Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei with a view to making it account for the said money.
Jackrich said whereas the palliatives were meant for the indigent and poor, curiously, just a handful of food items were provided and distributed to an insignificant number of persons in the Niger Delta states under a camera-party to give the impression that the palliatives had been distributed.
According to him, the food items were “politically” shared among the IMC choice areas, including a few states that aligned with them politically to undermine the essence of the gesture by President Buhari.
“As the chairman of the distribution committee, I cannot account for the palliatives as my committee was sidelined because I demanded for accountability and transparency in the processes.
“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 only to call me and hand over few bags of rice and beans just to induce me to play along with them, giving 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 hear 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 incommunicado. All needed logistics that my committee was supposed to work with were entirely denied us,” Jackrich alleged.
He said what was distributed under the guise of medical equipment were old goods and wares in the commission’s warehouses which were put on camera to deceive the unsuspecting public and mislead President Buhari.
“This too was staged. No single kit, no COVID-19 test centre was set up by the commission in the nine Niger Delta states till date. It is for the records that I state these facts.
In the petition, Jackrich urged the lawmakers to quiz the IMC to show material evidence of compliance with the relevant sections of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
The petition is essentially asking that the IMC should be made to show proof of procurement and utility of the necessary foodstuffs, medical equipment as well as their distribution to the Niger Delta states by the palliatives distribution committee.