The House of Representatives has discovered how Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Engr. Mustapha Maihaja, blew a whopping sum of N1.6bn released to him by the federal government in July 2017 for relief intervention to flood victims in 16 states.
The huge sum was said to have been expended on contracts awarded to 216 companies that were not qualified for contract awards in the country.
At an investigative hearing on the violation of public trust in NEMA by the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, Maihaja was found to have spent the N1.6bn on contract awards to the companies who have no tax clearance and other prerequisite qualifications as demanded by the Nigerian laws.
At the investigative hearing presided over by the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Ali Isa, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in their reports submitted to the committee revealed that the NEMA boss violated the law on tax and other breaches in the contracts to the companies.
The FIRS, ITF and PENCOM in their separate reports adopted by the committee during the hearing specifically stated that the NEMA’s boss did not carry out due diligence and financial regulations on the companies to know their qualifications and their status before awarding the multi-million Naira contracts to them.
Apart from the tax laws, Maihaja was also indicted for breaching the Public Procurement Act 2007 in his refusal to follow the relevant laws of procurement in the ways and manners he awarded the controversial contracts to the benefiting companies.
At the explosive investigative hearing, the committee was told that the governing council of NEMA inaugurated on April 3, 2018 on the same day suspended six directors of the agency who were said to have kicked against the ways and manners the NEMA boss was implementing contracts awards in breach of due process.
The suspended officers are Director of Finance and Accounts, Akinbola Gbolahan; Ag. Director, Special Duties, Mr. Umesi Emenike; and Director, Risk Reduction, Mallam Alhassan Nuhu.
Others are pilot in charge of Air Ambulance and Aviation Unit, Mr. Mamman Ali Ibrahim; the Chief Maintenance Officer, Mr. Ganiyu Yunusa Deji; and the Director of Welfare, Mr. Kanar Mohammed.
The committee acting chairman, Hon. Isa, however, ordered the NEMA boss to produce the suspended NEMA officials before the committee tomorrow for the continuation of the investigation and to enable the directors to give evidence in the interest of fair hearing.
The suspension of the officers was said to be arbitrary and suspicious, especially in the ways and manner it was purportedly carried out by the governing council the same day the council was inaugurated.
The committee had queried Maihaja in his claim that the report of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recommended the suspension of the officers while the DG who was also facing investigation along with directors was left out of the suspension in the purported EFCC’s report.
During the hearing that lasted several hours, Maihaja who resumed in April 2017 was said to have failed to respond to the distress occasioned by floods in 16 states in which several lives were lost and properties worth billions of naira damaged.
In some of the reports submitted by the affected 16 states, the NEMA boss was said to have delivered emergency relief materials to Kwara, Enugu and Ebonyi states to the flood victims a year after the flood disaster occurred, while others complained that the items delivered to them were less than N50mn as against the N100mn approved to each of the affected states by the federal government.
Apart from the three states, other 13 states could not receive the emergency relief materials six months after they suffered losses prompting the house committee to agree that the purpose of the federal government in releasing the sum to the affected states for emergency relief had been defeated by the action of the agency.
Specifically, the committee lambasted NEMA boss for misleading the president to release the huge sum in the name of emergency situation and ambush Nigerians by refusing to act on emergency situations as demanded by the law that established the agency.
Meanwhile, the house committee had adjourned further investigation till tomorrow April 12, 2018 to enable the NEMA boss to produce the six suspended officers and he is also expected to shed light on how interventions to victims of Boko Haram in North-East and how he managed the 6776metric tonnes of rice donated by the Chinese government.
Earlier, the committee had threatened to refer the NEMA boss to trial on perjury when it was discovered that he was not giving appropriate answers to the questions put to him by committee members in the bids to unravel the controversies surrounding the spending of the flood funds.