35BILLION FRAUD ALLEGATION ROCKS NORTH EAST DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION

BY AMEH IDAJUGI, JALINGO

 If the allegation of the deliberate diversion of about N35 billion from the North East Development Commission (NEDC) is anything to go by, the hope of the victims of insurgency for succour may be far from being realized.

The alleged missing funds were released by the Federal Government for rebuilding of communities destroyed by Boko Haram in the North-east region.

The Federal Government had in 2017 established the NEDC with the mandate to rebuild schools, hospitals, communities and other utilities destroyed by Boko Haram in Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa and Taraba States.

Investigations by Forefront revealed that the Federal Government had, in August 2019, released the sum of N10 billion as take-off grant for the Commission to take care of office accommodation, utilities and services of the newly established Commission.

Our sources also disclosed that another tranche of N25 billion was released to the Commission in September 2019 for materials’ intervention, master plan, reconstruction and full implementation of its operations.

However, despite the huge sums released by the Federal Government, no single office accommodation was secured or procured in any of the six states of the North-east. More worrisome is the fact that there is no visible rehabilitation, reconstruction or resettlement programme in any of the affected states, about seven months after the funds were released.

Further checks revealed that about N6 billion was said to have been spent by the commission in the procurement of relief materials for distribution to victims of the insurgency scattered in various Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps across the states of the North-east, with only few trucks of such materials procured and distributed by the commission.

A reliable source at the commission, told our correspondent that the N35 billion was only released on paper as it was immediately diverted by some highly placed personalities in the Presidency in connivance with the directors of the Commission.

Further checks indicate that from every indication, the Commission has deviated from its set objectives to one that is presently acting as if it was established to serve as a conduit pipe for enriching top civil servants and politicians.

Unconfirmed report also indicate that a substantial portion of the money released to the Commission may have been allegedly handed over to a highly placed government official.

It was also gathered that immediately after the release of the funds, a top management staff of the Commission, who was dismissed from a Bank was alleged to have delivered the money to his brother working in the presidency.

With these and other developments on ground, the hope of rebuilding the ravaged North East communities, may be far in sight or a mere mirage.

It was further gathered that some members of the Commission that assumed duties with the zeal of rendering service to the displaced citizens of the North East, have become disillusioned as a result of the diversion of the funds meant to serve the purpose of rebuilding the destroyed communities by Boko Haram.