Pondei was to answer questions on how ₦40 billion or $103 million, had been misappropriated at the NDDC. But about 45 minutes into the session, Pondei cast the figure of a dozing man, his spectacles taken off as his head slowly sank into his chest.
The chairman of the investigative committee sensed the unresponsiveness in their guest and the audience in the room suddenly broke into a commotion.
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But Pondei was almost immediately knocked back into consciousness only seconds after his predicament. Pondei is now, however, in a stable condition in a clinic in Abuja.
In the aftermath of the brouhaha, the NDDC spokesperson, according to the BBC, intimated that Pondei had gone to the hearing on Monday morning against the advice of doctors. The NDDC boss was reportedly unwell prior to Monday.
But when Monday’s incident, which was aired on live TV, broke out on social media many were the Nigerians who reacted to Pondei’s alleged ill-health with sarcasm and outright disbelief.
Author J.J. Omojuwa tweeted: “Hushpuppi stole from the wrong people and the wrong nationalities. These NDDC folks aren’t different from him. They just stole from much poorer people instead. And they stole from Nigerians. For now, that’s a crime many get away with.”
Another also tweeted: “This is what saves the NDDCboss……” and insert a photo of an intravenous fluid bag with the inscription “Pepsi”, while MTV award-winning rapper M.I. Abaga tweeted: “this guy na legend!!!! Infact sir!!!! One Legend Extra Stout for you!!!!! #NDDCProbe“
It has become a regular occurrence over the last five years for high-profile Nigerian politicians to suddenly fall into ill-health at investigative or court hearings. After he was accused of shooting a police officer in 2018, Senator Dino Melaye of Kogi State is believed to have feigned illness and got a court to keep postponing the hearing on the case.