By Musa Adamu
House of Representatives yesterday mandated its committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness to investigate National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) over alleged looting of N19.4 billion relief materials and funds for victims of disasters.
The motion was moved under matter of urgent public importance by Hon. Benjamin Wayo.
The funds, according to the lawmakers were for hunger intervention in the Northeast and food intervention across the country.
The lawmakers noted that the funds were illegally siphoned by officials of the agency through dubious award of contracts without delivering relief items to the victims.
While leading debate on the motion, Hon. Wayo said that the agency had received more than N10 billion from the 20 percent National Ecological Fund in the last one year.
He accused the Director General of the agency, Mustapha Maihaja, of allegedly awarding contracts to the companies he had interest in.
According unaccounted are the N5 billion for hunger intervention in the Northeast, about N2 billion for food intervention across the country and the N2.4 billion.
Hon. Wayo noted that agency was the only federal agency that had an Air Ambulance which had been turned into a commercial one without remitting the financial proceeds to government coffers.
The lawmaker explained that the mandate of NEMA was to coordinate the management of disasters across the country and to assist victims of such disasters, adding however, that in spite of the core mandate, several cases of disasters across the country have not been given necessary attention.
He said: “The hunger issue in IDP camps in the Northeast; the farmers/herdsmen conflicts; fire disasters victims and many other such cases across the country have been neglected.
“The agency has received more than N10 billion from the 20% National Ecological Fund in the last one year, N5 billion for hunger intervention in the Northeast, about N2 billion for food intervention across the country.
“These funds were illegally siphoned by officials of the agency through dubious award of contracts without delivering relief items to the victims. The Director General of the agency also awards contracts to companies he has personal interests in, and has violated his approval limits by awarding contracts to a single firm without due process.
“Example, one company called Olam Nigeria Limited got a contract of N2.4 billion, which is against the agency’s approval limit as stated in Section 16 subsection 1 of the NEMA Act. It should be made clear that the section pegs the approval limit at just N30 million.”
He recalled that the inability of the NEMA DG to manage the affairs of the agency, prompted the staff to go on strike last year, adding that the staff were currently threatening to embark on another strike if there was no intervention to resolve lingering labour related issues in the agency.