Senate summons Niger Delta Minister over alleged planned N480B fraud


 

The Senate has summoned the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, over alleged plot to siphon N480 billion intervention fund belonging to the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC and domicile it in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, without approval of the National Assembly.

The Minister is expected to appear before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, chaired by Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP Ondo Central) upon receipt of petition being investigated by the panel.

According to the petition, Umana has perfected plans to seek Presidential approval to collect the money on the guise that it would be spent on special projects in the Niger Delta region.

Addressing journalists at the National Assembly complex in Abuja Senator Akinyelure said: “There is N480B funds in a CBN account.

“Umana Umana is said to have perfected ways to present some new projects to President Muhammadu Buhari to approve it for him to start using the money to implement projects that is not appropriated by National Assembly.

“The power of a appropriation is conferred on the National Assembly not on Mr. President. Mr. President, can only give approval for service Wide Votes when the money appropriated by the National Assembly is not adequate to implement some projects meant for a particular, state or region,” he stressed.

Senator Akinyelure said several other allegations were levelled against Umana; among which is his refusal to forward two annual budgets of the NDDC (2021 and 2022) to the National Assembly for approval while money are being spent by the commission on the orders of the minister therefore taken the power of appropriations to himself.

He said: “The president has in his wisdom deemed it fit to appropriate funds to the Niger Delta region but the minister has refused to bring the appropriation before the National Assembly for us democratically elected representatives of the people to give approval, they have refused to do so. There are a lot of higher level mismanagement of resources due to develop the Niger Delta region.

“Because we are entering an election year, this is the fear of the Niger Delta people. We are entering an election year. We have less than seven months for Mr. President to say bye bye to Nigeria and he has a legacy to prove that he loves (the country).

“Why must the budget of 2021 and 2022 to be held by the minister by collaborating with some people who do not love the people of the Niger Delta region not to bring his budget for National Assembly when we are ready to pass the budget of NDDC.

“The budget of other similar agencies brought by their ministers and they have been approved by the National Assembly.”

The minister is also summoned to explain why he sacked over 100 NDDC staff therefore increasing the level of unemployment in the country.

“On his assumption of office as the Minister of Nigeria Delta Affairs, he sacked over 100 staff to compound the problem of Nigerians. We have received documentary evidence to back this allegation.

“He is there in the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry to pursue personal agenda, instead of pursuing the agenda of the people of Niger Delta region,” Senator Akinyelure further alleged.

Similarly, the minister was also accused of plotting to sack the current NDDC Sole Administrator, Effiong Akwa who was appointed by President Buhari and have him replaced by one of his cronies.

The petition before the Senate also accused Umana of deliberate refusal to inaugurate the NDDC board.

Senator Akinyelure, therefore, disclosed that the minister had been invited to appear before the committee on November 10 to provide answers to all the allegations.

“We are giving you a fair hearing to come on the 10th of November to come and defend these allegations and say no, you never make any attempt to remove the appointee of Mr. President,” he said.

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