The Coalition for Transparency in Nigeria (CTN) has urged the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to focus on its mandate of returning the northeast to the commercial powerhouse it was before terrorism ravaged the region.
Speaking on Sunday in Abuja, the Executive Director of the coalition, Cecilia Ikechukwu raised an alarm over an alleged plot by paid agents to blackmail the leadership of the NEDC through the use of fictitious petitions aimed at creating chaos and distracting them from fulfilling their mandate.
Ikechukwu who asked Nigerians to ignore the petitions which she described as baseless, said that the agents were operating under the guise of the People Advocacy for Transparency and Accountability (PATAI) and Al-Mushaid Initiative for Transparency and Accountability (AITA).
While noting that the NEDC has exceeded expectations which were evident in its recognition by the Senate and other credible bodies in the country and beyond, the coalition called on the Commission to report the two organisations to law enforcement agencies to investigate their possible link to terrorism.
She said: “The groups accused the NEDC leadership of mismanaging the sum of N146.19 billion being budgetary provisions made for it.
“It is absurd that they are not able to articulately pin down the amount within the context of budgetary and implementation processes. Was the amount a fraction of a larger budget? What is the timespan the money was meant to cover, one year, two years, or three years? Is the N146.19 billion budget for an entire year?
“How did the NEDC meet its overhead, recurrent, and personnel costs if the entire N146.19 billion was misappropriated as being claimed?
“We are concerned that PATAI and AITA are acting out an insidious script with worrisome consequences. At the very least, we see these two organizations as being driven by hunger that has made their coordinators insensitive to the dangers of plying their blackmail in a Commission that is strategic to long-term peace in the terrorism-impacted North-East geo-political zone.
“We see PATAI and AITA as belonging to the NGO arm of Boko Haram/ISWAP, and their action is part of a larger plot to roll back the progress that has been made in reclaiming the Northeast from these terrorists.
Apparently, their strategy is to distract the rebuilding efforts being piloted by the NEDC so that the resulting hopelessness will again drive disadvantaged youth into becoming available for recruitment by Boko Haram/ISWAP.
“We fervently hope that our intelligence community and law enforcement agencies will review this latter angle with a view to asking the operators of PATAI and AITA to prove that they are not on errands for Boko Haram/ISWAP. This is necessary to ensure that things do not fester badly before destructive platforms like this duo are called to order.
“However, while disregarding the ultimatum, the NEDC leadership should report the two organizations to law enforcement agencies to investigate their possible link to terrorism because we fear that it is a matter of time before they begin to physically NEDC projects.
“We urge the relevant law enforcement agencies to take note and act in the interest of preserving Nigeria from rouge groups that masquerade as NGOs.”