By Christiana Ekpa and Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness investigating alleged cases of sundry frauds in the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has vowed to unearth the truth in the matter “irrespective of the blackmailing from the Presidency”
The Committee which is specifically investigating alleged violation of public trust said that it has discovered a campaign of calumny from unscrupulous elements to make it shy away from its responsibility.
Briefing House of Representatives newsmen on the matter, the Committee represented by four of its members which included Hon. E.J.
Agbonayinma, Hon. P. O. Akpatason, Hon. Gabriel Onyenwife and Amiru Idris said that its areas of investigation were the release of N5.9 billion food intervention in the north east; release of N3.1 billion food intervention in north east; release of N1.6 billion for Libya
Returnees and release of N1.6 billion flood intervention for 16 states.
Others were the donation of 6,779 metric tons of rice by Chinese government; payment of about N800 million demurrage on the donated rice by Chinese and the unaccounted N10 billion release from ecological funds.
The period of investigation spans from January to December, 2017.
Spokesman of the committee, Agboniayinma said: “Attention of the House of Representatives has been drawn to reports in some national dailies on the ongoing investigation by the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness on the “Need to Investigate Alleged Violation of Public Trust in National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
“We also want to put the record that as at today there is no petition from any staff of NEMA to the committee or the House of Representatives.
“The issue of suspended directors was mentioned by the Director-Genera, Engr. Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja himself during one of the Committee hearings when he introduced a new director of finance and we sought to know what happened to the former director and he admitted to suspending them. The Committee also sought to know whether the suspension followed due process because these same directors are witness in the ongoing investigation.”
The lawmaker said that the involvement of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stemmed from his position as the Chairman of the NEMA Governing Council.
“We have also observed with dismay the ongoing campaign of calumny sponsored to pitch the House against the presidency, especially His Excellency the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
The VP’s only involvement is because according to the law establishing NEMA, section 2 subsection 2(a), the Vice president is the chairman of the Governing Council.
“We therefore want to know if the council under the Vice President authorized the suspension of directors.
“Notwithstanding the provision of section 89 of the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which empowers the National Assembly to invite any person to appear before it or its Committee during investigations
“The committee resolved that His Excellency the Vice President can send anybody to represent him considering his busy schedules.
“ This committee will leave no stone unturned until we unearth the truth.
“We will also not shield any public officer who soil their hands no matter how highly or lowly placed.
“We want to state unequivocally that no amount of blackmail or campaign of calumny will deter or prevent us from conducting this investigation”, he said.