Victor Oluwasegun, Tony Akowe, Abuja and Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt
THERE was panic on the Nationwide Meeting on Monday when the Performing Managing Director of the Niger Delta Growth Fee (NDDC), Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei, fainted throughout an investigative listening to by the Home of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Affairs.
The event threw Room 231 venue of the listening to into pandemonium. Folks rushed to his support and revived him earlier than he was taken to the hospital.
Pondei was being questioned over N536 million paid to a gaggle of associates within the Niger Delta; the aim of the N641 million paid to Clear Level Communications Restricted; the N536 million budgeted for save lives marketing campaign within the area; the N1.5 billion handed out to workers members of the fee as COVID-19 palliative and big sums meant for college students on scholarship, when he fainted.
Earlier than the incident, Pondei defined that N59. 9 billion was spent by the IMC on scholarship and forensic audit processes and N1.32 billion on the fee’s workers members as COVID-19 palliative and never N1.5 billion as extensively reported.
The NDDC performing managing director had on some events didn’t honour invites by the committee. On Thursday when he finally appeared, he staged a walkout, accusing the chairman of the Committee, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, of being an “accused and social gathering” within the probe saga.
Pondei nevertheless, honoured the committee’s invitation yesterday, citing President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to all his appointees to cooperate with the Nationwide Meeting and different related our bodies in cleansing up the mess within the intervention company.
However, about 45 minutes into the questioning by members of the Home Committee, Pondei fainted. He obtained assist from individuals sitting closest to him. One in every of them rushed to him and compelled his mouth open whereas one other grabbed a can malt which he tried to power him to drink.
Pondei nevertheless, regained consciousness after water was poured on his face earlier than being helped out of the venue.
The event pressured the session presided over by Tunji-Ojo’s deputy, Thomas Ereyitomi, .right into a 30-minute break.
Learn Additionally: ‘Fraud in NDDC displays authorities’s character’
Tunji-Ojo step apart earlier than sitting commenced to permit for equity.
A number of the allegations learn towards the NDDC are:
”That an Interim Administration Committee of the NDDC spent N81.5 billion as sundry bills, together with commencement ceremonies in the UK throughout lockdown.
* That the IMC Spent N3.14 billion for COVID-19 palliatives for employees members; N1.three billion on group relations and N85.6million on travels throughout lockdown between February and Might 2020:
* That the IMC additionally spent N122.9 million on condolences between February – Might 2020; N23.8million on consultancy and N2.6 billion on medicals,
*The spending of N790.9million as imprest; N1.9 billion on Lassa fever; N706 million on authorized providers; N1.121 billion on public communication.
The NDDC and an affiliate of Pondei, Vure Kingsley, later defined yesterday night that Pondei,had a historical past of being ailing.
However, the opposition Peoples Democratic Get together (PDP), described the Poindei incident as additional underscoring ”the burden of corruption that has bedeviled the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.”
In an announcement by its Director, Company Affairs, Charles Odili, the NDDC stated Pondei attended the listening to towards his docs’ recommendation.
The assertion stated: ”The fee needs to reveal that Prof Pondei has been ailing for the previous two weeks. This morning, his situation deteriorated and his docs suggested him towards attending the listening to.
“Nonetheless, he ignored his docs’ recommendation due to the realisation that his traducers will use his absence on the listening to to soil his title and status. He thought he may make it by means of the listening to and maintain his well being later.
“Because it turned out, his docs have been proper. However Prof Pondei is in a secure situation at a clinic in Abuja.”
The assertion additional defined that “it will be unfair to carry him (Pondei) personally responsible for acts which befell when he was not the pinnacle of the fee.”
The performing managing director assumed workplace on February 20, 2020 and by Might 5, the Nationwide Meeting “ordered a probe of his tenure of precisely 74 days on the time, two thirds of which was spent below COVID-19 lockdown circumstances.”