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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says its Interim Management Committee (IMC) is ready to appear before the National Assembly following an allegation it squandered N40 billion.

The Senate and House of Representatives had resolved to invite the commission for allegedly squandering N40 billion within three months.

The motion was sponsored by Thompson Sekibo a senator representing Rivers East under the Peoples Democratic Party.

Mr Sekibo had said the IMC which was set up by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, to oversee a forensic audit of financial transactions “has been bedevilled with financial misuse, misapplication, misappropriation or outright fraud in the management of the commission’s funds.”

But in a statement on Friday, the NDDC’s director, corporate affairs, Charles Odili, dismissed the allegations.

He said the IMC and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, were ready to attend any public hearing on the matter, according to a report published by the Nation newspaper.

Mr Odili also said the total amount received by the IMC is N33 billion, “out of which it has since spent a total of N22 billion”.

He added that the amount has been used to fund expenditures such as payment of “salaries and contractual debts”.

“The detractors of the commission are now hiding under the resolution of the National Assembly to trash the reputation of the Interim Management Committee, IMC. We wish to state that there is no N40 billion fraud in NDDC.

“As stated last week, the total sum received by the IMC is N33 billion, out of which it has spent N22 billion. The expenditure includes payment of staff salaries, service providers’ debts and contractual debts of N50 million and below.

“Can N40 billion be stolen when it did not exist? Is the payment of staff salaries and benefits, an act of corruption? Should poor helpless contractors who worked for the commission and were being owed for more than five years not be paid sums as low as N1 million?

“The commission concedes that the National Assembly has a constitutional right to investigate its operations, if and when it deems it necessary. However, we find allegations, which have no substance and serve no purpose other than generating adverse newspaper headlines unhelpful.

“These baseless allegations pose grave threat to the success of the forensic audit of the NDDC, directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, following widespread request by stakeholders, including Governors of the Niger Delta States.”

Last month, the NDDC had also invited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to audit its operations.

The commission said its action followed a directive by President Buhari for a forensic audit of its operations from 2001 to 2019.

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