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Senate begins probe into non-remittance of dues to NDDC by agencies

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Senate, on Wednesday, began probe into alleged non-remittance of statutory contribution to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by some government agencies for the past 16 years.

Senate President, Saraki

Senate, on Wednesday, began probe into alleged non-remittance of statutory contribution to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by some government agencies for the past 16 years.

Senate Committee on Niger Delta saddled with the probe grilled officials of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas and Ecological Fund Office over the claim.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, told reporters that the amount due for payment to NDDC by the NLNG and the Ecological Fund Office which they allegedly refused to pay for over 16 years is colossal.

He described the development as fragrant abuse of the law setting up the NDDC.

Nwaoboshi said, “It is not whether that they contributed certain percentage. The point is that they had refused to obey the law since year 2000.

“The next step the committee would take now is to invite the Accountant General of the Federation and investigate the matter to know why the two agencies of government had not been remitting what is due to the NDDC to it.

“We are conducting holistic investigation into the activities of the NDDC. What we want to do is to find out first, the claims in some quota that colossal amount had been given to the people of Niger Delta region through the NDDC while there is nothing on the ground.

“We want to, know how much the agency had received so far from year 2000 to date. What are the projects they have executed with the money?

“We want to know those who are contributing to the agency. We have asked the Managing Director of the NLNG, Mr, Babs Omotowa, and he said that they have not been contributing money to the NDDC.

“They showed us a Supreme Court judgement which described NLNG as a gas processing company and that there is a gas Act that came before that of NDDC Act.

“They argued that the NDDC Act has not repealed the Gas Act. The NLNG claimed that the Gas Act has given them tax holiday.

“We are lawmakers and we are going to revisit the two Acts. We will go into the root of the matter.

“We don’t just make laws for the purpose of making it. Laws are meant to be obeyed. If government agencies and institutions refuse to obey the law, why do we talk about the rule of law?

“Laws made by the National Assembly should be obeyed. Everybody is complaining that the NDDC is not performing but are they receiving the due funding especially from the oil companies.

“The oil companies are supposed to pay three percent of their budget to NDDC but they are giving less than that.

“When they came before our committee, I read out the Act to them and some of them started apologising.

“They said they thought that they were supposed to pay three percent of the projects that they execute in their communities.

“There has been total disregard and respect for the NDDC Act and nobody will allow that.”

The Permanent Secretary, Ecological Fund Office, Mr. Mohammed Abass, said that his office has made contributions but not to the NDDC.

He noted that the Ecological Fund Office spends only the money approved for it by the President for design and drawing.

He added that the NDDC has never approached the Ecological Fund Office to ask for statutory funding.

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