Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve Maihaja of his appointment, as well as order his prosecution.
The lawmakers made the request based on a report which indicated that the Managing Director, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja, allegedly mismanaged N33 billion meant for intervention in various disasters and humanitarian crises in the North East.
This followed the adoption of report of the Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, which probed alleged breach of public trust by the NEMA MD, in the management of the agency.
At yesterday’s plenary, Committee Chairman, Ali Isa, presented the report and added that the panel established several infractions against Maihaja and urged the House to approve its recommendation.
“It has been established that the Federal Government of Nigeria lost over N33 billion as a result of the mismanagement of outright embezzlement of funds occasioned by the actions or inactions of the Managing Directors of NEMA, Engineer Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja. It is consequently recommended that Maihaja be relieved of his duties by the president and handed over to relevant authorities for prosecution.”
The House noted that the funds allegedly mismanaged were fom NEMA’s allocation from the ecological fund, approvals and releases by the federal government on North East intervention, as well as cost implication on the 6,779 metric tons of rice donated by the Chinese government to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East.
But, NEMA rejected the House report because some of the findings and conclusions presented by the committee did not reflect the facts and documents placed before it by the agency. The agency made its position known in a statement last night.
“We were shocked to hear some of the findings and conclusions presented by the committee on the issues, which did not reflect the facts and documents placed before it by NEMA. While we shall, in due course, be making a more comprehensive response to all the points made, it is most important to clarify the following: On the Port Clearance and Transportation of Emergency Food Assistance by Chinese Government, the Federal Government received 6,779MT of Rice for IDPs in the North East as donation by the Chinese Government. This amounted to 271 containers, which arrived Apapa Ports between June and October 2017.
“The processes of securing duty exemption, waivers and other related issues took several months, but the total quantity was subsequently cleared from the Apapa Port, transported and delivered to NEMA warehouses in the North East. It , thereafter, distributed to the IDPs in the States of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.
Documents on the transaction, including distribution to the IDPs were made available to the Committee.
“The correct total value of the rice is about N2.25 Billion (50 million Chinese Yuan) and the amount spent on clearing, demurrage and storage was about N450 million, not the N800 million as alleged by the committee.
“On EFCC Investigation of the suspended staff of NEMA, the suspension of the Six (6) NEMA officers was a decision of its Governing Council based on the Interim Report of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which indicted them for financial misappropriation. The suspension was in line with Public Service Rules and the extant Guidelines on Appointment, Promotion and Discipline.
“On the approval of N1.6 billion granted by the Federal Government for the Procurement and Delivery of Relief Items to 16 States affected by Flood in 2017, due process was observed in the procurement of the relief items and all items meant for the 16 states were received and acknowledged by respective State Governments.
Documents evidencing the acknowledgement of the items were made available to the House Committee.