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House of Reps committee allegedly uncovers N1.6bn fraud in NEMA

House of Reps committee allegedly uncovers N1.6bn fraud in NEMA

- The management of the NEMA has been accused of corruption

- The NEMA boss, Mustapha Maihaja, is said to have mismanaged N1.6 billion released to the agency for relief intervention to flood victims in 16 states

- Maihaja was also indicted for breaching the Public Procurement Act 2007

The House of Representatives has accused the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Engineer Mustapha Maihaja of mismanaging N1.6 billion released to the agency by the Federal Government in July 2017 for relief intervention to flood victims in 16 states.

According to the lower house, the huge sum was 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 accused of spending N1.6billion on contract awards companies who have no tax clearance and other prerequisite qualifications as demanded by the Nigerian laws.

House of Reps committee allegedly uncovers N1.6billion fraud in NEMA

NEMA boss under fire from the House of Representatives. Photo source: Twitter

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At the investigative hearing presided over by the deputy chairman of the committee, Honourable 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 hearing, the committee was told that the governing council of NEMA inaugurated on Tuesday, April 3, 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, Umesi Emenike; and director, Risk Reduction, Mallam Alhassan Nuhu. Others are pilot in charge of Air Ambulance and Aviation Unit, Mamman Ali Ibrahim; the chief maintenance officer, Ganiyu Yunusa Deji; and the director of welfare, Kanar Mohammed.

In reaction, Honourable Isa ordered the NEMA boss to produce the suspended NEMA officials before the committee on Thursday, April 12 for continuation of the investigation and to enable the directors 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.

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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, Maihaja was accused of failing 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 N50 million as against the N100 million approved to each of the affected states by the Federal Government.

Apart from the three states, 13 other states could not received the emergency relief materials six month after they suffered loses.

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 their bid to unravel the controversies surrounding the spending of the flood funds.

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Meanwhile, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina state has urged accountants in the country to intensify efforts toward exposing the Chief Executive Officers of ministries, departments and agencies involved in corruption.

Masari made the call on Tuesday, April 10, while receiving Alhaji Shehu Ladan, the national president, Association of Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), who paid him a courtesy call in Katsina.

The governor said that the chief executive officers could not just dip their hands into the public treasuries without the roles of accountants who were custodians of public funds.

The EFCC stage a walk against corruption on TV

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