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Groups allege N146bn fraud in NEDC


…Gives MD three-day ultimatum to respond

Two transparency and civil society groups have called on the Managing Director of the North-East Development Commission, Mohammed Alkali, to respond to allegations of mismanagement of budgetary allocations, amounting to N146,191,606,649.25.

 The groups, Al-Mushahid Initiative for Transparency and Accountability, and the People’s Advocacy for Transparency and Accountability, gave the MD of the NEDC, a three-working-day ultimatum, from Monday next week, to respond to the allegations, before the issue is reported to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigerian Police Force, and other anti-graft agencies.

 The National President of AITA, Aminu Majidadi, and the Executive Chairman of PATAI, Francis Bassey, gave the three-day ultimatum, during a joint press conference held in Abuja on Friday.

According to them, both groups had sent a petition to the MD, after which they had sent reminder request-for-interview letters on the January 18, January 31, and February 14, all of which had gone unanswered.

Bassey said rather than a response from the commission or the MD himself, the groups had received a call from one Mr Gab Amos, who claimed to be a Department of State Services Personnel with the Maiduguri Command, an action the groups considered as intimidation.

“At this point, it is convincingly clear that their aim is to stop us from uncovering the truth and letting the public know what is happening in the Commission for reasons best known to them. It is unfortunate that instead of responding to our request for their side of the story, as we are empowered by the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011 against this evidently massive allegation of corruption, the Commission is busy trying to intimidate us.”

The groups also said that community members and groups in the North-East had written to them, alleging that projects which the commission were funded for had been abandoned without an account for how the funds had been used.

Some of the allegedly abandoned projects include, construction of a central workshop in Maiduguri, Borno State; construction of Birama Primary School in Kashimbila, Taraba State; supply of equipment to an Ophthalmology centre in Azare, Bauchi State; construction of mass housing units in Dadi Kwowa, Gombe State; and construction of Nguru mass housing units, and 300 mass housing units in Damaturu, both in Yobe state, among others.

 The groups assured the public and Nigerians of their commitment to ensuring that anyone found guilty is prosecuted, while appealing to Alkali to respond to its petitions, to avoid further actions.

 “At this juncture, we are assuring Nigerians that AITA and PATAI are committed to this course and will leave no stone unturned to ensuring that the truth is out and anyone found guilty is prosecuted accordingly.

In conclusion, we are calling on the Managing Director, North-East Development Commission to, as a matter of necessity, according to the FOI, respond to our request for his side of the story to avoid further lawful actions to ensure the right thing is done using the facts within our possession to prove this case.”

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