The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has beamed its sear h light on Director-General Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo.
Leadership reports that the ICPC is currently investigating the unaccountable spending of over N600 million in the last two years.
The anti-corruption agency is questioning Mbanefo for allegedly recruiting some 50 staffers of the organisation without following due process. The anti-corruption agency started the investigation after receiving a petition by the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Service (AUPCTRE) and workers of NTDC, indicting Mbanefo of the alleged crimes.
The AUPCTRE and NTDC officials said the embattled DG has to explain the sudden disappearance of “N38.3million financial assistance from Heritage Bank, Keystone, and Aso Savings, Standard Chartered Bank, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Ondo State as well as UAC Property.
Mbanefo, who assumed the head of Nigeria’s apex tourism body in July 2013, is also expected to explain why she employed 50 staff of NTDC “without regards for public service procedure and Federal Character Principle.”
She is also being accused of mismanaging N12 million meant for the launch of“Fascinating Nigeria.” She is also accused of “blowing off N81.7 million” on empowerment program in 2013 and the sum of N38.5million in 2014.
The NTDC boss is also indicted for misusing N52, 014,821 released to NTDC as capital budget from March to July 2014; while she is expected to give the whereabouts of N342, 654,807 overhead budget of her organization from February-September 2014.
The petitioners are also not happy with her for alleged withdrawal of N35 million meant for Tour Guide Training after SURE-P had organised and sponsored the same program; just as she was said to have misused N14, 720,000 on Notting Hill Carnival in 2013.
A top official of the ICPC, who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed these allegations, saying: “the DG has been our guest in the past few weeks. She has been in and out of our office. We have quizzed her on some allegations bordering on mismanagement of funds and abuse of office.”
“As a matter of fact, she is on administrative bail pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation. If nothing is found against her, we will let Nigerians know at the end of the day.”
Part of the petition reads thus:
“From March to July 2014, the Federal Government released capital budget of N52, 014, 821. Yet no capital project has been embarked upon.
“Again, from February to September 2014, the Federal Government released overhead budget to the tune of N342, 654,807 for training and other logistics. Yet no training was done, no office equipment were bought.
“Inimical to the image of the service and the nation is that the DG pulled out of the ITB Berlin UNWTO Global Marketing event in March 2014 without the knowledge and approval of the former Minister and to the utter consternation of tourism stakeholders who were also in attendance.
“That in anticipation of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, you engaged the services of contractors to develop, market and execute the Nigeria Fans Village in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It is also alleged that you obtained funds from some banks and corporate organizations to fund this project. That neither the Nigerian Embassy in Brazil nor the Nigerian Consulate in Sao Paulo had any knowledge of this project.”
In a related development, Katsina state government has urged the federal government to take a close look at the statutory duties of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) in order to improve their activities.
Meanwhile, Premium Times reports that the sum of N226,07 million was withdrawn by Members of the Public Accounts Committees in the 7th Senate and House of Representatives in violation of the Money Laundering Act 2011. Members of the committee and their representatives, legally responsible for ensuring probity and accountability in the nation’s financial system, violated the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 during their five-year tenure.