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The House of Representatives, Thursday mandated its Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness to probe the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, over looted N19.4 billion relief materials funds for victims of disasters.

The directive followed a motion promoted by Benjamin Wayo, under matter of urgent public importance on the floor of the House.

The funds, according to the lawmakers, were for hunger intervention in the North East 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.

Explaining the breakdown of the funds, while leading the debate on the motion, Wayo said the agency has received more than N10 billion from the 20 percent National Ecological Fund in the last one year.

Other funds on the radar of the lawmakers are the N5 billion for hunger intervention in the North East, about N2 billion for food intervention across the country and the N2.4 billion the Director General of the agency, Mustapha Maihaja, allegedly awarded to the companies he has interest in.

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, but added that in spite of the core mandate, several cases of disasters across the country had not been given necessary attention.

“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 per cent 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,” the lawmaker said.

“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,” the lawmaker said.

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