Controversies over alleged diversion of N6.25bn COVID-19 palliatives continue in NDDC

Controversies over alleged diversion of N6.25bn COVID-19 palliatives continue in NDDC

Monday, August 17, 2020 1:32 pm

Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, acting Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)

*I have evidence to show proof- Jackrich
*Jackrich is blackmailing us for our refusal to pay him a humongous amount of money for being Chairman of the Committee–NDDC.
Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt
Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee, High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, has insisted that items bought by the Commission for distribution to oil producing states and other stakeholders for alleviation of the pains of the pandemic were diverted.
Jackrich said he has evidence to substantiate his allegations of diversion of N6.25bn COVID-19 palliatives.
He denied submitting a petition on the alleged diversion to blackmail the Prof. Keme Pondei-led Interim Management Committee (IMC).
Jackrich, in a statement, asked the IMC to hold its peace and prepare to defend itself before the National Assembly.
He insisted he had evidence for every allegation contained in his petition
He also said  it was ridiculous for the IMC to refer to him as the erstwhile Chairman of the Palliative Committee.
He said the IMC failed to deny any of the allegations contained in his petition, including payment of scam contractors and denial of payments to genuine uncompromising contractors by the IMC.
He said: “The unwholesome efforts by the Corporate Affairs Directorate of the NDDC to defend the indefensible acts of the IMC in the face of the overwhelming scandals and allegations smacks either deep ignorance or scantiness of facts on their part.
“It will be rather most dignifying for the NDDC to wait to defend themselves in the National Assembly probe when scheduled so they do not destroy their almost unavailable chances of justifying their malfeasance because I have evidence for every allegations contained in my petition.
“At the appropriate time, the IMC shall explain themselves and account for every kobo approved in the N6.25 billion by His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari for the benefit of the indigent people of the Niger Delta who have now been denied.
“Every claim on the purchase of the so-called medical equipment contained in their response remains false and all such distributions to states are absolutely misleading because our evidence will expose it”.
But the NDDC IMC described the claims as baseless in its response to allegations of Jackrich.
The Commission, in a statement by its spokesperson, Odili Obi said, “The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is aware of claims by the erstwhile Chairman of the COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee of the NDDC, High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, that N6.25 billion funds approved for the procurement and distribution of COVID 19 palliatives to the poor people of the Niger Delta region was embezzled by the Interim Management Committee, IMC.
“This is another false claim orchestrated by the same forces who have been waging a campaign of falsehood against the Commission and its management since President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Commission in the past 19 years.
“Although the Commission is minded to ignore this claim, we have to respond to re-assure our stakeholders that the IMC is honest in the management of the common trust in their care. Here are the facts:
1. High Chief Jackrich approached the Commission to work with it in different ways. He was then chosen to oversee the Committee involved in the distribution of the COVID-19 Palliatives to communities in the Niger Delta. The Committee was put in place to ensure transparency in the process.
2. Immediately the constitution of this committee was announced, some of the State Governors reached out to the Commission that they would have nothing to do with it. Instead, they demanded that the palliatives meant for their states be given to them. In fact, one particular Governor declined to give the permit to move the items during the COVID lockdown unless the Commission directly deal with his government in the matter.
3. The Education, Health and Social Services Directorate (EHSS), which oversees the COVID-19 response raised a memo advising management to accede to the demands of the governors. The memo dated May 22, 2020 argued that in view of the need to collaborate with state governments in the Niger Delta, the management should grant approval for state directors ‘to liaise with their respective state governments, on behalf of the Commission in drawing up a programme for the flag off and donation of the COVID-19 Palliative items in their respective states.
4. On May 23 2020, management approved the request of the EHSS directorate. As a result of this approval and the change in policy, the task of the High Chief Jackrich Committee became redundant. This means the High Chief was no longer and could no longer be involved in the direct distribution of the Palliatives. This also means he could not have accurate information on the exercise.
5. As at today, none of the nine state governments has denied receiving its own share of the food items for distribution under the COVID-19 Palliatives programme.
6. The bulk of Mr. Jackrich’s petition dwelt on the refusal of the IMC to pay him a humongous amount of money for being Chairman of the Committee. This has led to this blackmail.
“It needs be stated that apart from the palliatives distribution to vulnerable people, the COVID-19 Intervention of N6.25 billion approved by President Buhari had two other components: the procurement of medical kits and a public sensitisation campaign.
“The following medical kits were procured:
· 27 trilogy 202 ventilations,
· 65 ECG Machines,
· 54 RT PCR Machines,
· 18 APC smart digital UPS 5KVA,
· 36 infra-red thermometers,
· 18 double jar suction machines,
· 18 Fluid warmers,
· 18 multi parameter patient monitors,
· 94 standard ICU beds,
· 95 oxygen cylinders,
· 95 oxygen masks,
· 95 infusion pumps,
· 18 mobile X-ray machines,
· 18 mobile ultrasound machines,
· 18 mobile dialysis machines,
· 18 arterial blood gas machines,
· Sanitizers and syringe pumps.
“All the procured equipment have been distributed to the nine Niger Delta states and received by the state governments.
“Beyond COVID-19, this intervention has boosted the health care delivery capacity of the nine states. We are grateful to the Mr. President for this intervention, which has saved lives in the region.”

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