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Transparency groups petition EFCC, ICPC over alleged diversion of N146.19bn taxpayers’ funds in NEDC

*Advocacy for Transparency and Accountability and Al-Mushaid Initiative for Transparency and Accountability have petitioned the EFCC and ICPC over core allegations bordering on corruption, financial misappropriation, and abuse of office against the leadership of North-East Development Commission in Nigeria

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

For allegedly misappropriating taxpayers’ money, two transparency groups have threatened to drag the leadership of North-East Development Commission (NEDC) to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over  mismanagement of N146.19 billion.

The groups, People Advocacy for Transparency and Accountability (PATAI) and Al-Mushaid Initiative for Transparency and Accountability (AITA), also gave the NEDC up to March 15, 2023, to respond to the allegation financial malfeasance.

ConsumerConnect reports the North-East Development Commission  was established in 2017, after the National Assembly (NASS) passed the Bill establishing the Commission for the implementation of programmes and initiatives for six states in the geopolitical zone in Nigeria.

Mr. Francis Bassey, Executive Chairman of PATAI, and Amb. Aminu Majidadi, President of AITA, issued the ultimatum at a joint media briefing conference Thursday, March 9, in Abuja, FCT.

The Commission has refused to respond to the petition earlier sent to it by some patriotic Nigerians, said the groups.

PATAI and AITA also disclosed they had sent three reminders to NEDC dated January 18 and 31, as well as February 14, 2023, without response.

Bassey explained that the core allegations bordered on corruption, financial misappropriation and abuse of office.

He claimed that the N146.19 billion was the budgetary allocation to the Commission.

The Executive Chairman of PATAI further purported that money had been paid in full for projects not completed or even abandoned.

Bassey said: “The abandoned projects include construction of central workshop in Maiduguri, Borno; construction of Birma Primary School at Kashimbila in Taraba; Madagali and Pinlla primary schools projects in Adamawa.

“Others are supply of equipment at Eye Clinic Centre in Azare; construction of ICT training centre; construction of College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Misau, all in Bauchi state.”

He listed other abandoned projects to include the mass housing project in Dadin Kowa, Gombe State, and 200 mass housing units in Nguru as well as a 300 mass housing project in Damatutru, both in Yobe.

According to him, there were also abandoned projects in Jalingo, Sadauna, Zing and Ussa Local Government Areas of Taraba, among others.

The two groups, PATAI Chairman noted, had conducted a thorough investigation of the claims in the petitions and awaiting the response of the NEDC.

The groups’ concern is to ensure accountability in the handling of public funds so that it would benefit Nigerian consumers, stated he.

Bassey added: “It is on the account of promoting transparency and accountability by holding those in authority accountable that we gave the Commission a chance to respond to issues of grave allegations raised against them.

“We also wrote several memos to the Commission to address the issues raised in the petitions against them.

“It is sad to note that they have not responded positively to our enquiries till date.”

About NEDC

The NEDC is  the focal organisation charged with the responsibility to assess, coordinate, harmonies and report on all intervention programmes, and initiatives by the Federal Government or any of its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), States, and other Development Partners and for the implementation of all programmes and initiatives for the North East states, including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.

NEDC declines comment on allegations

Meanwhile, in regard to the allegations by the two transparency groups, Mr. Abba Musa, Head of Corporate Services at NEDC, declined comment.

Musa stressed that he was not authorised to speak on the issue, indicating it was only the Managing Director of the Commission that could speak on the matter, agency report said.

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