The House of Representatives on Thursday mandated its committee on Emergency and Disaster preparedness to investigate the alleged violation of public trust at the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, over the indiscriminate award of a contract worth N2.4 billion.
The House resolution followed a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Honourable Benjamin Wayo on the need to probe the agency.
In his motion, the lawmaker alleged that “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”.
He added that “it should be made clear that the section pegs the approval limit at just N30 million”.
Speaking further, he said, ” the agency is the only Federal agency that has an air ambulance but has turned it into a commercial one without remitting the financial proceeds to government coffers and the agency could not account for their assets.
To buttress his point, he said that, “the agency’s staff went on strike last year over the Director General’s incapacity to manage the affairs of the agency, and the staff are currently threatening to embark on another strike if there is no intervention to resolve lingering labour related issues in the agency”.
According to him, “The core mandate of NEMA is to coordinate the management of disasters across the country, and to assist victims of such disasters”, noting that, “In spite of this core mandate, several cases of disasters across the country have not been given necessary attention”.
To this end, he said that “The agency has received more than N10 billion from the 20 percent National Ecological Fund in the last one year, N5 billion for hunger intervention in the North East, about N2 billion for flood intervention across the country.
He expressed worry that, ”these funds were illegally syphoned by officials of the agency through the dubious award of contracts without delivering relief items to the victims”.
The motion scaled through when the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara who presided over the session put the motion to a voice vote.
In another development, the House on Thursday ordered the suspension of Nigeria’s contributions to the Lake Chad Basin Commission until alleged corruption and misappropriation levelled against it Executive Secretary is resolved.
The House then directed that the Ministry of Water Resources issue a letter mandating the Executive Secretary of the LCBC to hand over to the newly appointed Executive Secretary of LCBC since his tenure has already expired.
The Speaker, Honourable Dogara who presided the plenary also directed the suspension of the commission’s budgetary allocation.
This resolution followed a motion raised by Honourable Abubakar Adamu under matter of urgent public importance.
Honourable Adamu noted that on the 9th of November, 2016, the House passed a resolution mandating its committee on Lake Chad Basin Commission to thoroughly probe into allegations of mismanagement, lawlessness and misappropriation in the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC).
He said in pursuance of the House Committee on LCBC mandate, the Executive Secretary and other relevant officers of the commission were invited to answer the questions raised but the Committee’s invitation was shunned.
According to him, the Executive Secretary has a penchant for flagrant disregard of the Nigerian Parliament on the basis of a claim to immunity relying on a memo purportedly issued from the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 20th day of December 2016.
The lawmaker said, “Lake Chad is of strategic interest to Nigeria as a result of which Nigeria stands out as a major contributor to the funds of the LCBC”.
“Nigerian funds contributed to the LCBC constitute tax generated from the Commonwealth of the citizens of Nigeria and the House owes a duty to its citizens to ensure that such funds are put to good use in pursuance of section 88(1) (b) (ii) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)”, he added.