Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Reps summon Osinbajo, Magu, Eyo-Ita over suspension of six NEMA officers

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NEMA didn’t receive N5b Northeast intervention cash, says DG

VICE President Yemi Osinbajo is to appear before a House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Management to answer questions on the reasons behind the suspension of six senior officers of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The House ordered that the suspended officers should be recalled while EFCC investigate the case against them.

Also to appear alongside the Osinbajo is Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu, the Head of Service Federal Civil Service of the Federation (HoFCS) Winifred Oyo-Ita and the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) Ahmed Idris.

The vice president was, however, asked to send a representative, if his schedule would not allow him.

The summon was moved as a motion by Umar Bago (APC, Niger) and was carried by the committee members.

The suspended officers are the Director of Finance and Accounts, Akinbola Gbolahan; Acting Director, Special Duties Mr. Umesi Emenike and Director, Risk Reduction Alhassan Nuhu.

Others are the pilot in charge of Air Ambulance and Aviation Unit, Mr. Mamman Ibrahim; Chief Maintenance Officer Mr. Deji and Director of Welfare Mr. Kanar Mohammed.

At the day three of the investigative hearing on the activities of the agency yesterday , the Ali Isa-led committee said the process that led to the suspension has to be explained by the vice president being the chairman of NEMA Governing board.

NEMA DG Abubakar Maihaja had told the committee that the decision to suspend the six officers was taken by the council after it was inaugurated by the VP.

When asked if the suspension was verbal or formal and if procedure as prescribed by public service rules was followed, Maihaja responded that suspension was not verbal.

He said: “The report of the EFCC that led to the decision to suspend the officers was not released to the members though they were allowed to scrutinise it.

“At the meeting, members were not allowed to take the letter out but allowed to go through it because the EFCC investigation is still ongoing.

“The reality is that the document is confidential and the chairman made us aware that if giving out, the information therein would be exposed.

“The instruction for the suspension wasn’t verbal by the VP but a meeting of governing council gave the approval. It was a resolution of the governing council.

“If the VP had wanted to give instruction verbally, he would have done that before the inauguration of the council…

“The council took the decision and taking instruction from the council, I signed the letters but the EFCC investigation is still ongoing”.

On the N5 billion Northeast intervention fund, the DG said no money of such amount was received by NEMA, except N829 million for logistics and security.

He, however, confirmed that food items worth the said amount was received and N829 million was used for the movement of the materials to the region.

“I received items not money worth N5,036 billion and we were instructed to pick them from the stores. Some companies have not, however, delivered theirs like Golden Agric Input Ltd.

“Food items were reviewed from Dangote, Bua Flour Mills and others and we have distributed and still distributing. Fifty per cent was moved to Maiduguri, 20 per cent to Yobe and 10 to Bauchi Gombe and Taraba.

The DG was also questioned on the eligibility of some companies engaged for the supply of 10,000 metric tonnes of rice valued at N3 billion.

“We engaged the companies used under emergency as proscribed under Emergency Act,” he said.

On the qualification of officers that signed contract award documents, he said, “To the best of my conviction and according to the records, we had no procurement officer as at that time but planning officers, who were not qualified to carry out such assignment.”

Several organisations relevant to the investigation were also asked to appear before the committee to give information that would aid the exercise.

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