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Contract/Scholarship Scam: Group call for arrest, prosecution of Amnesty Programme staff

A group, Niger Delta Anti-Corruption Forum (NDACF), has asked the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) to arrest and prosecute staff of the organisation involved in awarding phony contracts and hijacking its scholarship scheme.

The group made the call in a statement on Sunday by its Coordinator, Samuel Samuel.

PAP recently disclosed that it discovered unsavoury acts of fraud perpetrated by some vendors and contractors, adding that it was investigating the activities to determine how widespread they were and the extent of involvement of the persons.

The Interim Administrator of the Programme, Milland Dikio, said while the investigation was on, it would continue to pay those whose contracts and documents had been verified.

NDACF commended the leadership of PAP “for the courage to flush out the corrupt elements who connived with external elements to steal billions of naira from the Programme.”

It, however, said the organisation should go further by arresting and prosecuting those found guilty of the offence to serve as deterrent to others.

It alleged that some of the staff involved had hijacked scholarships and inflated the number of beneficiaries and used the ill- gotten money to buy choice houses in Abuja and other cities in the country.

“We received a cheery news last week that there is an ongoing cleansing of the Presidential Amnesty Office in Abuja and upon investigation we confirmed that it was true,” the group said in the statement issued after its meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

“To us as a group, this is long overdue and indeed one of the best things to happen to the region. To say that we are happy about it is an understatement.

“A lot of people are not aware that 50 to 60 percent of the contractors handling various projects are staff of the Amnesty Office. They use people as fronts. It is also on record that most of the contracts they award to themselves do not exist. They just get the money and lavish.

“It is the same thing they do with the PAP Scholarship Programme meant for people from impacted communities. They hijack the scholarships and sell the slots. In some schools there are only about 20 to 25 students but the amnesty office pays the fees of as much as 50 to 60 students.

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“They have acquired choice properties with their ill-gotten funds from the PAP in Abuja and other cities. It is a fact that these people have several choice properties at the expense of the original beneficiaries of the programme. And a lot of our people don’t know about it.

“When Colonel Milland Dixion Dikio came and said he wanted to reposition the PAP, they declared war on him, frustrated every move he made but the good thing is that the man has lived up expectations and his military background. He has shown capacity to do the right thing.

“We are proud of him and we admire his boldness in the face of the sponsored attacks against him. We encourage him to go after the rest of the people who are also involved in the sharp practices.

“We’re calling on the Interim Administrator of the PAP to ensure that those culprits and their gang of collaborators are brought to justice. It is not enough to sack them, they should be arrested and prosecuted.

“Everyone who is involved in a contract and scholarship scam should have his or her day in court. This will serve as a warning to others, minimize the level of corruption in that office and make the PAP work well.”

NDACF assured Mr Dikio of its support, just as it praised him for sticking to his broad vision of repositioning the PAP, building the capacity of ex-agitators and general security and development of the region.

The NDACF also said it endorsed Mr Dikio’s “strategic engagements with critical stakeholders in the region to strengthen the PAP and get them to play their various roles in the Niger Delta Recovery Plan.”

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