“It is not possible that you will mismanage over N146 billion, and nothing will happen. The process itself will not make it possible. So, it is not true.”
Two transparency groups have threatened to drag the leadership of the North-East Development Commission (NEDC) to the EFCC and ICPC over the alleged mismanagement of N146.19 billion.
People Advocacy for Transparency and Accountability (PATAI) and Al-Mushaid Initiative for Transparency and Accountability (AITA) gave the NEDC up to March 15 to respond to the allegations.
PATAI executive chairman Francis Bassey, and AITA president, Aminu Majidadi, issued the ultimatum during a joint news conference on Thursday in Abuja.
According to them, the commission has refused to respond to the earlier petition some people sent. He added that the two groups have also sent three reminders to the commission dated January 18 and 31, as well as February 14, 2023, without a response.
Mr 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.
He said the money was paid in full for uncompleted or abandoned projects.
The abandoned projects include the construction of a central workshop in Maiduguri, the construction of Birma Primary School at Kashimbila in Taraba, and the Madagali and Pinlla primary school projects in Adamawa.
Others are the equipment supply at the Eye Clinic Centre in Azare, the construction of the ICT training centre, College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Misau, all in Bauchi state.
Mr Bassey listed other abandoned projects, including the mass housing project in Dadin Kowa, Gombe, 200 mass housing units in Nguru and a 300 mass housing project in Damaturu, both in Yobe.
He claimed there were abandoned projects in Jalingo, Sardauna, Zing and Ussa council areas of Taraba, among others.
According to him, the two groups have conducted a thorough investigation of the claims in the petitions and are awaiting the response of the NEDC.
He said their concern was to ensure accountability in the handling of public funds so that it would benefit Nigerians.
“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,” Mr Bassey explained.
He also mentioned that “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 to date.”
NEDC spokesman Abba Musa denied the allegations, describing them as baseless.
“You and I know that in this regime, it is not possible that you will mismanage over N146 billion, and nothing will happen. The process itself will not make it possible. So, it is not true. No matter how, even your conscience will not allow you to do that, but truly speaking, there is nothing like that,” stated Mr Musa.
The NEDC official added, “All I know is that I have met with them, and I told them I was travelling, and if I come back, I will still see them. But if they decided to go the way of the media, there is nothing anyone can do now. We will wait until we are officially invited.”
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