By Deshi Munkuwe
In line with their commitment to combating the war against corruption, two Abuja based anticorruption NGOs; Almushahid Initiative for Transparency and Accountability (AITA) and Peoples’ Advocacy for Transparency and Accountability (PATAI) have urged the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to respond to their memos to the Commission on allegation of massive mismanagement of N146,191,606,649.25 budgeted for the six States of the North East under the leadership of the present Managing Director, Alhaji Mohammed Gwani Alkali.
The NGOs for which AITA was represented by Ambassador Aminu Majidadi and PATA by Comrade Francis Bassey, made the call at a press briefing attended by the major media platforms in Abuja on Thursday. AITA and PATAI disclosed to the newsmen the alleged corruption activities and added how the North East Development Commission under Alkali have been shying away from granting an interview to state their side of the story.
“We wish to welcome you all to this press conference which is to intimate you of the efforts that AITA and PATAI have been making to address a case of alleged massive fraud at the North East Development Commission, an agency set up by the Federal Government to address humanitarian and infrastructural problems caused by the more than a decade of insurgency in the North East.
“As you might be aware, our Non-Governmental, non-profit making bodies have been committed to ensuring accountability and transparency in government with the aim of reducing corruption to the barest level in our society. We are equally a non-partisan, non-profit-making anticorruption NGOs as well as media consultants.”
The NGOs added:“It is on the account of promoting transparency and accountability by holding those in authority accountable that we just did not rush to the media, but ensured that we gave the Commission a chance to respond to issues of grave allegations raised against them. 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 till date.” It added.
According to AITA/PATAI, despite the first letter and two reminder letter with a questionnaire, the Commission has not responded, but rather they are using government machineries to intimidate the anti-corruption giants.
“The Commission however tried to reach us by asking for a questionnaire from us on the issues we want them to respond, which we gladly made available to them and even had a chat with a promise to get back to us only for us to receive a call from one Mr Gab Mshelia Amos who claimed to be a DSS personnel from Maiduguri Command, Borno State to intervene in the matter.”
“Apparently, up until the time of this press briefing, the Commission has neither responded to our request for an interview with them, nor granted us audience to state their own side of the story. Instead they have been trying to intimidate us using the machinery of government to stop us from interviewing them, without telling their own side of the story.” It mentioned.
“At this point, it is convincingly clear that their aim is to stop us from uncovering the truth and letting the public know what is happening in the Commission for reasons best known to them.” It stated
While responding to questions from the journalists, Amb. Aminu Abubakar Majidadi and Comrade Francis Bassey, the National President of AITA and Executive Chairman of PATAI, respectively, they added that all necessary documents are in their possession and they gave an ultimatum of three working days to Wednesday 15th March, 2023 for response before further actions.
The two anti-corruption NGOs assured Nigerians of their commitment to the noble course of the fight against corruption and will leave no stone unturned to ensuring that the truth is out and anyone found guilty is prosecuted accordingly. In conclusion, AITA and PATAI called on the Managing Director, North East Development Commission (NEDC), Alhaji Mohammed Gwani Alkali to as matter of necessity within the given days to respond positively to the request for his side of the story to avoid further lawful actions to ensure the right thing is done using the facts within their possession to prove this case.