If there is one government official who is always in the news for wrong reasons she is no other person than Ms Sally Mbanefo the Director-General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC ). Just few weeks back she was invited by the Office of Independent Corrupt Practices commission ICPC over an allegation of 500 million corrupt practices at the corporation. She has since been granted an administrative bail.
According to a report by TheNation, the commission is looking into alleged mismanagement of over N500 million by the NTDC chief and her management team.
But, Mbanefo has denied all the allegations including those from Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Service(AUPCTRE).
According to a top source in the commission, Mbanefo has appeared twice before the ICPC investigators, following the receipt of some petitions.
Many payment vouchers have been retrieved from NTDC including PV No NTDC/CAP/240/13; PV No NTDC/CAP/237/13; PV No NTDC/CAP/261/13 and memo NTDC/M&P.39SUB.2 among others.
The source, who spoke in confidence, said: “We have invited her more than two times for interrogation by our team in the last few weeks.
“The issues have to do with alleged abuse of office, mismanagement or diversion of funds and recruitment without due process.
Some of the allegations being probed by ICPC include alleged misuse of N52,014,821 released to NTDC as capital budget from March to July 2014; the whereabouts of N342, 654,807 overhead budget from February-September 2014; curious withdrawal of N35 million after SURE-P had organised and sponsored Tour Guide Training Programme; and alleged spending of N14,720,000 on Notting hill Carnival in 2013
Others are disappearance of N38.3 million financial assistance from Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, and Aso Savings, Standard Chartered Bank, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Ondo State and UAC Property; and employment of 50 members of staff without regards for public service procedure and federal character principle.
Also, issues being investigated are alleged mismanagement of N12 million for the launch of “Fascinating Nigeria”; spending of N81.7 million on empowerment programme in 2013 and N38.5 million in 2014.
One of the petitions reads in part: “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. In furtherance to this, you “It is alleged that you obtained funds from some banks and corporate organisations to fund this project.
“ That neither the Nigerian Embassy in Brazil nor the Nigerian Consulate in Sao Paulo had any knowledge of this project.”
Mrs. Mbanefo yesterday maintained her innocence saying there is no such investigation going on against it.some people are trying to tarnish her image.
She said she had nothing to do with SURE –P fund which she said the ministry of culture collected.
She said for the Brazilian project, the company hired failed to do what was expected after which it was trying to collect money which the board of the corporation rejected.
“They are putting lies together to tarnish my image, but God won’t allow it,”