…..Seeks dismissal, prosecution of NEMA DG, Maihaja over fraud, corruption and embezzlement of N33 billion emergency intervention fund
By Our Correspondent
In contravention of constitutional provisions, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo illegally approved the release of the sum of N5, 865, 671, 939.26 in June 2017 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account which was mismanaged by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), a report by the House Committee on NEMA has stated.
The report, whose recommendations were based on findings from a thorough investigation by the Hon Ali Isa J.C House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness was adopted by the House of Representatives after being considered in the Committee of the Whole Thursday.
The House noted that the authorisation of the release of the fund for emergency food intervention of food security in the North East contravenes Section 80(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended states that, “No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly”.
Similarly, it also breached the provision that the National Assembly must approve all issuance of Euro Bond from which the minister of Finance and the Accountant General of the Federation directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to pay from.
The funds were paid as follows for supply of food items: Dangote Rice Ltd N936, 196, 800; Golden Agric Input Ltd N1, 384, 554, 236; BUA Rice Ltd N1, 322, 273, 520; WACOT Ltd N453, 674, 296; WACOT Ltd N939, 946, 089; NEMA N829, 026, 456.
The lawmakers agreed that the authorization granted for the withdrawal of such huge sum of money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account was highly flawed and had infractions on Section 80(2) of the Constitution and Section (2) of the Procurement Act, as well as provisions of the Appropriation Act, did not follow due process as taxes and interest accruable to the government were not deducted or remitted to FIRS and no meeting held by the Federal Executive Council to approve the contracts.
Furthermore, the funds were credited directly to the individual banks of the companies and NEMA bank account, a violation of the approval limit allowed by law. Out of the N5.8 billion, NEMA got N829, 026, 456 for logistics and claimed it spent N369.5 million on general logistics, N189 million on branding and packaging, N248.6 million on branding and packaging and N21.9 million on contingency.
They, therefore, called for the dismissal and prosecution of the director general of NEMA, Engr Mustapha Maihaja over fraud, corruption and embezzlement of N33 billion Emergency Intervention Fund, as well as all the government officials involved in the approval, processing, release and diversion of the fund; that the Central Bank of Nigeria, being a banker to the federal government should not have been involved in giving loans to private companies and as such, ahould be investigated for the N2 billion loan said to have been given to four named companies.
The Committee’s investigation into Breach of Trust In NEMA covered the following aspects:
(1) Release of N5, 865, 671, 389 and N3, 153, 000, 000. 00 emergency food intervention of food security in the North East in 2017 (2)6, 779 metric tonnes of rice donated by the Chinese government to IDPs in the North East (3)Payment of about N800 million demurrage on the donated rice (4) over 10 billion naira, being 20 percent statutory ecological funds released between January 2017 to February 2018 to NEMA (5)Federal Government’s N1, 600, 000, 000to 16 states in July 2017 for Flood intervention(6) Over N1.6 billion released to NEMA for evacuation of Nigerians stranded in Libya in 2017 and other ancilliary issues; N33 billion naira was lost by the federal government due to Maihaja’s mismanagement and outright embezzlement of funds. The House, therefore, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve the director general of NEMA of his duties and hand him over to relevant authorities for prosecution.
They also called on the relevant agencies to conduct further investigation on NEMA, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Budget and National Planning in order for them to account for the 6, 779 metric tonnes of rice donated by the Chinese government for the benefit of IDPs in Nigeria but was never received by the beneficiaries and prosecute all found wanting, recover the multiple transaction of N800 million demurrage from the ministry of Budget and National Planning, Ministry of Agriculture and NEMA and that the six staff of NEMA who were suspended for their testimonies before the investigative committee be reinstated.
On the issue of receipt and utilisation of N1.6 billion for flood victims in 16 states, the House Condemned the display of insensitivity to the plight of flood victims showed by NEMA management in the handling of the relief materials and called on ICPC and EFCC to further investigate the matter and recover the sum of N700m from the director general of NEMA, who is the accounting officer of the agency.