How funds were diverted from NEMA's coffers - House of Representatives' probe reveal

How funds were diverted from NEMA's coffers - House of Representatives' probe reveal

- The House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 24, continued with hearing of its probe on the National Emergency Management Agency

- The investigation has revealed how funds were diverted from the coffers of the agency to directors' accounts

- A civil society organisation also called for a thorough investigation into the matter

A probe by members of the House of Representatives have shown how funds were moved from the coffers of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) by its past leadership.

The probe instigated by Benjamin Wayo in February revealed that the past director general of the agency, Mohammed Sidi, allegedly maintained 20 different accounts in various banks as a public servant.

While making presentations on behalf of a civil society group, Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency on Tuesday, April 24, Edward Omaga told the committee on emergency and disaster preparedness that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) discovered suspicious deposits by the former DG.

Omaga said the discovered money - $164,000 and £58,000 - were found in a domiciliary account operated by the past DG of the agency.

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The CSO also said that some of the directors suspended by the present DG, Mustapha Maihaja, were indicted in various corrupt practices by the EFCC.

Omaga said: "The suspended Director of Finance and Accounts, Akingbola Hakeem Gbolahan also maintained many bank accounts with questionable transactions. His account with Guarantee Trust Bank contained suspicious deposits amounting to N27,650,000. Deposits of over £37,000 and $120,000 were found in his domiciliary accounts, and much of these deposits flowed directly from NEMA."

"The acting Director of Special Duties, Mr. Umesi Emenike diverted funds meant for programs and maintenance of the South-South zone operations of NEMA under his supervision.

The funds were paid directly into his accounts, 14 of them have been discovered by the EFCC in various banks, instead of the zonal office account. Mr Emenike was found to have withdrawn these funds freely in cash, by electronic transfers or through ATM machines."

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He further informed the committee that the director of risk reduction in NEMA, Alhassan Nuhu, also maintained five bank accounts which were allegedly used as a conduit for receiving and distributing money from NEMA. He said the director has also failed to give satisfactory account of his transaction with the funds moved through him to a farm, Dambo Farms Limited.

In their presentation, the CSO added that, the pilot in-charge of NEMA's air ambulance, Mamman Ibrahim, was also accused of commercialising both NEMA air ambulance and its helicopter.

The group said: "The EFCC traced at least N285 million to him, out of which only N63 million was paid to the accountant general's office and another N11 million was paid to NEMA while the balance could not be accounted for."

It was also revealed that the director of welfare Kanar Mohammed's six accounts were allegedly funded with money earmarked for displaced traditional rulers in the northeast.

The group said: "N184 million paid by him (Kanar) to one Crystal Chambers based in Abuja and N29.5m paid by him to a former Minister, Abdul Bulama."

After making its submission, the group urged the speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to suspend its investigation over integrity of the committee. It also called for the inclusion of the former NEMA DG and suspended directors in the ongoing if its must continue.

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In his response, the chairman of the committee, Ali Isa, said the investigation is not targeted at anyone. He noted that the House and the National Asembly as a whole has no vested ineterst in the ongoing investigation.

Isa said the committee was specifically mandated to investigative the violation of public trust in NEMA for the last one year.

He said if the present DG of NEMA mentions in his presentation, or any other person submits petition that the former DG should be invited, the committee would not hesitate to invoke section 89 of the constitution and invite him or any other person so indicted. He also announced that the hearing would continue on Wednesday, April 25. earlier reported that Maihaja had earlier told members of the Isa led committee that he was doing his best to correct some of the corrupt practices that had taken place within the agency.

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Maihaja said the agency also complied to the Public Procurement Act in the awarding of contracts for the supply of N1.6 billion relief materials to flood victims in 16 states within the last one year.

Also, Isa had earlier noted that the committee did not receive petition against the past DGs of the emergency agency as they have been mandated to investigate corrupt practices in NEMA.

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