[By VICTOR NZE]
Senate has denied claims by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that its members received N20 million Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) palliative each from the agency, as it demanded proof of senators collecting any such money.
Senate’s response was made in a statement signed by its spokesman, Senator Dr Ajibola Basiru, Tuesday.
It would be recalled that the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC through its Director of Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, had claimed that the commission paid out Covid-19 palliatives ranging from N15 million to each member of the House of Representatives and N20 million for each senator.
Ojougboh while fielding questions in an interview, Monday also accused members of the National Assembly of plotting to stall the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari on the NDDC, insisting that senators are in the list of those involved in looting the commission.
“They are talking about COVID-19 payment, the federal government is given every citizen N30,000 each, do you know how much federal government has spent? The CBN and many other corporations have been giving COVID-19 allowances, which are within their purview, just like NDDC did.
“In the National Assembly, each of the senators got N20 million, while the House of Representatives members got N15 million for COVID-19 from the National Assembly. They all received COVID-19 allowances,” Ojougboh had claimed.
However, reacting to the allegation, the senate asked the NDDC to provide proof of its members receiving the said sums of money from it.
The senate, therefore, demanded an apology from the agency if it fails to provide evidence of the claim leveled against its members.
“The Senate views with grave concern a statement credited to Dr Cairo Ojougboh, Executive Director, Projects of the NDDC who alleged that NASS members received varying sums of money as COVID – 19 palliative
“The Senate hereby disclaims the allegation in its entirety.
“The Senate categorically denies that any Senator collected the sum of N20 million or any sum whatsoever from NDDC as Covid relief fund of for any purpose whatsoever.
“The Senate challenges Dr Ojougboh to publicly provide evidence of his claim and list the names of the Senators he allegedly gave the alleged sum.
“Failure to provide evidence of his claim, the Senate hereby demands immediate retraction and public apology from Dr Cairo Ojougboh,” the statement by the senate spokesman, Basiru read.